Home' Asian Aviation : AAV November 2011 Contents 34 AsianAviation | NOVEM BER 2011
embers of the European
Regions Airline Association
(ERA), meeting in Rome for
their annual conference in
late S eptember, might have
been forgiven for feeling
they had stepped through a time warp.
Ten years earlier, ERA airlines had met in the
immediate aftermath of the 11 September 2001
terrorist attacks ag ainst the USA , facing the uncertainty
of a traumatised market. This year, they came tog ether
a gainst a background of “economic uncertainty that has
not been faced for probably 50 or more years”, according
to the association’s Director General Mike Ambrose.
The depth of concern about current issues facing
the airlines – including proposals that could reduce
slots for regional operators at major airports, plans to
cap aviation emissions and concerns about perceived
European political bias favouring rail transportation
– wa s “quite evident” from the number of delegates
attending the ERA General Assembly, Ambrose tells
The Association represents some 65 intra -
European airlines, which annually carry 70.6 million
passengers on 1.6 million flights to 426 destinations
in 61 European countries.
More than 60 airline chief executives and airport
directors attended the pre-Assembly presidents’
meeting. The director general says he is “very pleased”
with the level of support members had given the ERA
board in the past 12 months. Regional airlines are also
very concerned ab out the levels of subsidy available to
and marketing agreements being established with, low-
cost carriers. Such arrangements “hurt some regional
competitors because they represent a ma ssive distortion
of the [European] internal market”, Ambrose says.
According to ERA , government plans to amend
European Union (EU) slot-allocation reg ulations
and introduce market mechanisms for slot-trading
are flawed. The basis for the amendment is a study by
consultancy Steer Davies Gleave (SDG), which ERA
says is “ based on the purely theoretical objective of
maximizing passenger throughput at co -ordinated
[or slot- constrained] airports by forcing out
The group arg ues that many European regional
routes, essential to maintaining connection with
major hubs, cannot sustain larger aircraft.
“These routes [provide] investment, employment,
and social mobility to those regions,” ERA says.
“Any change to the slot-allocation reg ulation which
denies [regional airlines] access to European capitals
(and international destinations) would neg atively
affect jobs and would socially and financially impact
Europe’s regions”, where 90 percent of the EU ’s
Accordingly, ERA has joined forces with the
European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) to
commission an independent study to “e va luate the
potential damage to intra-European airlines, and the
regions and businesses they ser ve”, should the EC
amend current legislation.
Ambrose claims the study will adopt “a holistic
approach” that will permit determination of “the
full effects of the SDG proposals”. For example, what
would be the effects on air transport, employment
and on EU airlines? Which carriers would be the
greatest beneficiaries and how do the proposals affect
overall economic and social well-being ?
“Changing the existing reg ulation does not address
the underlying problems of lack of capacity,” says
Ambrose. He fears that many smaller European
a irports and communities do not “recognise the risk
if the EC introduces a disproportionate incentive for
a irlines to operate larger aircraft and if that incentive
were reflected in carriers’ ability to buy slots”.
According to the ERA chief : “Regional airlines
already fly the largest sustainable aircraft, but do
not have ‘de ep pockets’. The winners will be non-
European widebody operators.”
The joint ERA/EBAA study is expected to be
completed by the end of this year. ERA member
airlines have called on the European Parliament
and European Council to prevent the European
Commission (EC) from publishing proposals based
on the SDG study. “It is more important to address
the underlying problem, which is the lack of adequate
capacity at Europe’s larger airports,” Ambrose says.
In a second formal resolution adopted by the ERA
General Assembly, members expressed their concern
that European aviation might be “competitively
disadvantaged” by the forthcoming EU Emissions
Trading Scheme (ETS), which has generated “growing
international unease” over its implementation.
Under the scheme, which the aviation industry
joins on 1 January 2012, the EC is capping emissions
below 2004-06 levels. Initially, it will grant 82
percent of the permits airlines would have needed in
that period, while the remaining 18 percent must be
bought at auction or from other sectors. Operators
maintaining emissions at 2004-06 levels will need to
acquire the 18 percent balance.
Economic uncertainty probably not seen for half a century faced European
regional airlines at their annual meeting in Rome. Ian Goold reports on concerns
about the loss of slots at major airports, emissions caps, and perceived bias
in favour of rail transport.
“Any change to the slot-allocation regulation which denies
[regional] access to European capitals (and international
destinations) would negatively affect jobs and would socially
and financially impact Europe’s regions.” – ERA
ERA represents some 65 intra-European airlines, carrying more than 70 million passengers a year.
ERA airlines face up
to economic woes
28/10/11 8:29 PM
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