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Photo: IATA

Airlines urge airports to ease capacity crunch

IATA weighs into the debate about the growing squeeze at airports, saying airports and governments “must do more”.

The current system for allocating capacity at Europe’s airports is benefiting consumers with greater choice and expanded connectivity, the International Air Transport Association claims.

Passengers “are enjoying an unprecedented level of choice” in air travel, IATA says, despite the constraints imposed by a lack of new airport capacity, which was the view recently put forward by Eurocontrol.

“Passengers and the EU economy are benefitting from new routes and the growth of low-cost carriers and other new market entrants,” the association states.

More and more routes
It is a claim backed up by analysis, which reveals that airports classified at the highest level of congestion in Europe added 2,000 more routes in the 2010-17 period.

Over the same period the number of long-haul routes grew by 27%, while 30% of European routes are now operated by two or more carriers, an increase of 5 percentage points since 2010.

A recent Airports Council International study showed that more than 55% of seat capacity on intra-Europe routes is now competed between full-service carriers and low-cost carriers. One of the results is that over the last 20 years there has been a near-doubling in city-pair connections within Europe and between Europe and the rest of the world.

IATA wants to emphasise the positives of this rapid development: “European consumers have greater choice and more competition than ever before when deciding how they travel within or beyond Europe,” says IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac.

“This is no small achievement when you consider that Europe’s airports are among the most congested in the world.”

He adds that slot regulation at airports is “working well”, even though “Europe has more than half of all the world’s slot-constrained airports”.

But de Juniac concedes: “We are already on the back foot and capacity is not keeping pace with demand growth. He urges that “airports must do more to increase the operating capacity of existing infrastructure and governments need to encourage and facilitate timely and cost-effective expansion of congested airports and airspace.”

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