Pierre J. Jeanniot
Europe: Policies and Political Will
Address to ‘World Tourism Day – Future of Aviation’
Helsinki, September 28, 2011 >>
Mr. Chairman, distinguished speakers from the European Aviation Safety Agency the FINAVIA Corporation and of the Boeing Company, colleagues from the aviation community, friends from the tourism world.
Distinguished guests, first let me express my sincere gratitude to BARIF for your kind invitation to participate in this important event, and for giving me an opportunity, however briefly, to visit this great country.
I very much regret that during my many years at the helm of IATA various circumstances, crises and obligations of the role never gave me the opportunity to come to Helsinki. It is therefore a double pleasure for me to be here!
But first, a brief disclaimer. Let me say at the outset that the views expressed here are strictly my own and do not pretend to represent the views of IATA or of any other corporation I have been associated with.
Finland and Canada have much in common. Both of us have liberalized our economy, and as a result are doing rather well.
Finland has just about the best record of any of the E.U. nations for government debt to GDP ratio (approximately 48%). Canada has the best record for debt to GDP ratio of all the major economies – the so-called group of seven nations (the ratio was 77% in 2010).
As Northern nations we both have harsh weather, although you do benefit from the soothing influence of the Gulf Stream and the Baltic Sea.
When one reflects on the economic difficulties experienced by the nations of southern Europe – as well as in my own hemisphere – that is one more thing we have in common!
Finally let me say that in both of our cases, the proximity of a large nation – in your case Russia and of course access to the E.U. Common Market , and in our case the United States – provides us with some great opportunities – but also some significant risks and challenges.
The late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was fond of saying that living close to the United States was like sleeping with an elephant in the same bed. You could easily get crushed if he rolls over!
For both of our countries, our geography and our demography – more particularly our relatively smaller home market compared to our neighbors – suggests that we must be acutely aware of the major trends re-shaping our industry.
Governments’ actions and policies have always had an important impact on aviation. Perhaps more so than on any other sector of the economy.
In North America and in Europe more particularly, the actions of governments in my view show a rather curious lack of coherence.
To over-simplify, these governments plan and encourage a full market economy to stimulate growth and greater customer choice through competition.
But at the same time, the same governments continue to introduce excessive taxes – in some cases recklessly -and lack the courage to properly support the necessary expansion and modernization of air traffic control functions and airport infrastructure. On the positive side, there is no doubt that the opening up of our industry to the market forces has been beneficial for the consumer – and to rejuvenate our industry.
Worldwide liberalization of air markets may have progressed rather slowly, but it has moved steadily. In contrast to some other industries, there was no “big bang”. A number of regionally integrated air markets exist today in Europe (E.C.), North America, Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
Internationally, the U.S. “Open Sky” initiatives introduced an air bilateral agreement which removed any constraints as to pricing, capacity, or points served between the U.S.A. and other countries. This type of highly liberalized air bilateral agreement has progressively become the norm in most of the air bilaterals being negotiated today. And, as you most likely know, a wide ranging “Open Sky” agreement was recently concluded between the United States, the European Community and Canada, providing all carriers in those regions with unlimited scheduling opportunities.
In other regions of the world -Asia/Pacific, China, India, the Middle East, as well as Latin America -increasingly liberalized air market agreements and the vigorous economic growth of those regions is providing the airline industry with exciting new opportunities.
But there are some dark clouds and unfortunately, in a number of countries, air travel is being taxed as if it was as “sinful” as alcohol and tobacco!
One of the worst offenders is probably the United Kingdom. The Airline Leader magazine in its March 2011 issue writes “It would not be unfair to describe Britain’s aviation policy as anti-aviation”! The article further observes that “The lack of any coherent strategy – combined with some anti-aviation forces – is undermining the viability of the nation’s airline system”.
One of the ugliest aspects of the U.K.’s imposition on aviation has been the Air Passenger Duty – ADP- along with its adherence to the principles of emissions trading involving airlines. This is simply another tax in disguise, as none of the funds collected have been applied to environmental initiatives. Recognizing that aviation is the prime engine of international tourism, let me quote the President and CEO of the “World Travel and Tourism Council”, David Scowsill, who recently declared:
“Governments continue to milk the tourism cash cow, with little thought for the industry which creates jobs, generates exports, stimulates investments, and powers sustainable economic growth”.
David goes on to say “The U.K. Air Passenger Duty has long set a dangerous and unhealthy precedent , and it is disappointing that the German government has also seen fit to penalize the industry – and millions of travellers – in this way.”
The Centre for Asia-Pacific Aviation reported last summer ”the U.K. domestic market took a big hit with a drop of 18% in available seats, demonstrating the continuing impact of the U.K. Air Passenger Duty charges – and the improvement in rail services”.
In its latest Quarterly Report, Ryanair observed that Dublin airport Authority increases of 40% in Airport charges, coupled with the Irish Government’s 3.0 euro tourist tax, had caused the traffic to plummet by 30% in 2010 to 18 million passengers from a peak of 24.7 million in 2007.
Ryanair believes that returning airport charges to a competitive level could generate at least 5000 jobs in the Irish economy. U.S. President the late Ronald Reagan who, as you may recall, was trying to reduce the bureaucracy of the U.S. Government, once said:
“Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few words:
If it moves – tax it;
If it keeps moving -regulate it;
If it stops moving – subsidize it”!
Some of us may be tempted to think that these words could also apply to aviation and tourism.
As was indicated previously, the opening up of our industry to market forces has been beneficial.
It is one of the powerful forces which have been reshaping the profile of our industry.
The model of the low cost carriers originated in the U.S. more than thirty years ago, with Southwest Airlines. Although Southwest has survived, many who emulated the formula succumbed during the 1990’s recession.
The model was successfully re-launched, with carriers like Easy-Jet, Ryanair, and others giving it a new impetus. Worldwide, low cost carriers are now providing twenty-three seats out of every hundred flown by all the world’s airlines.
They continue to enjoy an excellent growth rate in the double digit range. For example, growth was 15.7% 2010 over 2009. The low cost carriers are growing in every region. In 2010, the capacity in seats offered was:
- 17.7% for Asia Pacific;
- 28.7% for North America;
- 35.0% for Europe.
Some observers believe that if this trend continues, low cost carriers will have captured some 50% of the intra-European market by 2020.
To counter the loss of market share, some legacy airlines are trying to launch a low cost carrier or, in some cases, to acquire control of one of the low cost carriers. (Brussels Airline being acquired by Lufthansa, Vueling is 48 percent owned by Iberia.)
Within the various economic regions where such activities are allowed, competitive forces have continued to encourage mergers and acquisitions.
And meanwhile, alliances have continued to expand their respective memberships. To date, more than fifty airlines already belong to one or the other of the three alliances, and some thirteen more have been invited to join.
Beyond the growth in their membership, the shape of the alliances is also changing with the emergence of joint ventures with anti-trust immunity.
The U.S. and E.U. authorities have recently granted anti-trust immunity to some of the key members of each of the three alliances over the Atlantic.
This anti-trust immunity is allowing them to operate in a fashion now referred to as “Metal Neutral”. A joint U.S. DoT – E.U. report states that “Metal Neutral” is a close substitute to a merger, allowing the key members of such alliances total coordination of the major airline functions on the affected routes including scheduling, pricing, revenue management, marketing and sales.”
Immunized joint ventures are also being achieved over the North Pacific for STAR, as well as for One World (Japan’s regulatory authorities have had to approve). On the South Pacific, key members of Sky Team and One World have also been granted anti-trust immunity for their respective “Metal Neutral” operations.
The smaller airlines not involved in these “Metal Neutral” operations may find it increasingly difficult … to maintain some influence … on their own respective alliances.
While legacy airlines have been busy expanding their alliances and creating a strong core of Metal Neutral joint ventures, new carriers have been growing in the Middle East. The Gulf airlines have developed a new model – a model which, in fact, re-invents the concept of national network carrier.
The genesis of this new model can be traced back to a decision, in 1985, by the Government of Dubai to single out air transport – and specifically airlines – as one of its strategic industries.
Along with the decision to turn the Emirates into a financial and trade center, the need for a world-class airline was identified as an important tool of economic development. The airline model that evolved was based on the following elements:
- The availability of new, long-haul airplanes;
- The central geographic positioning of the Gulf;
- The full exploitation of 6th freedom rights;
- The development of an ultra-modern airport;
- Advantageous local tax and operating conditions.
Emulating that successful Emirates strategy, Etihad, Gulf Air, and Qatar Airways have followed a similar plan, and are developing a global network carrier.
With the advent of new, long-range, efficient airplanes – and an increasingly liberalized market and 6th freedom rights – these Gulf carriers are capitalizing on the opportunities to serve virtually every major city in the world with a flight going through a hub in the Persian Gulf. The rapid expansion of the Gulf airlines has attracted much concern on the part of some European and North American carriers.
Others, such as Finnair, see this model as an opportunity. Burdened by excessive taxation, environmental constraints, expensive infrastructure, and high labor costs, some European airlines have concluded that the advantages enjoyed by the Gulf carriers prevent a level playing field – and make it very difficult for them to compete successfully.
And thus, the airline industry has re-aligned itself into a number of very distinct groups:
- Alliance members;
- Low costs;
- New “National” network Airlines (typically Gulf carriers); A large number of still un-aligned medium to smaller sized airlines. Some, such as Virgin, concentrate on building a unique “brand image”.
Thus far, none of the major low costs has chosen to become members of any alliance, believing their model and mode of operation to be largely incompatible. As far as the Gulf carriers are concerned, they truly believe – at this time – that their organic growth capability in developing their respective 6th freedom market will be sufficient for quite some time to support their expansion plans. I note, in passing, that Finnair has a similar strategy building a Europe to Asia hub.
Finnair’s CEO has recently stated that he believes that the Asian market will represent some 80% of revenues by 2020. Driven largely – but not uniquely – by the exciting economic development of Asia, the airline industry will continue to enjoy good traffic growth – at least for the foreseeable future. But it is urgent in some regions -and Europe is a case in point – that infrastructure be expanded to cope economically and safely with this growth.
My first address , as incoming Director General and CEO of IATA in 1992, was at a Conference in Brussels which had been called to discuss a chronic European air traffic congestion problem.
This was some nineteen years ago – the European Community had fifteen members and fifteen air traffic management authorities.
There were, as we then observed, too many air traffic control centers – each operating with different rules, different software, and different equipment.
All of which resulted in a very unproductive system, and a lot of unnecessary delays and congestion.
The need for a “Single Sky” concept was already obvious but the best that could be achieved was to get an agreement to harmonize the rules and systems between the various air authorities.
A program called EATCHIP (European Air Traffic Control Harmonization Program) was launched.
I thought at the time that it was somewhat ironic that a number of members of the European Community would agree to abolish their borders on the ground – through the Schengen Treaty – but at the same time fiercely defend the need to keep them in the air!
Since then we have progressed, and the concept of a Single Sky has been accepted. And indeed some very impressive targets have been set.
Air Navigation Services are expected to achieve a 50% reduction in service cost per flight by 2020 – while at the same time accommodating a 3-fold increase in traffic, a ten-fold improvement in safety, and a 10% reduction in environmental impact.
These targets have not been universally accepted. The European Head of CANSO – the Council of Air Navigation Services Organization – expressed serious concerns late last year. CANSO has called the target “unrealistic”, and believes that the economic modeling used was too inaccurate to support target setting.
This massive “SESAR” air traffic management modernization project is currently in the process of being validated. The stakes are high. Patrick Ky, the Executive Director for the “SESAR Joint Undertaking” (J.U.) which is managing the public-private partnership that is overseeing the development phase, says that over the next fifteen years, the total costs are expected to be in the 30 to 35 billion Euros range. Richard Deacon, the head of the U.K. semi-privatized ATM provider NATS, deplored that “SESAR” is providing the bricks to build a new house – but no one has spoken to the architect!” We have a situation where the technology and operational objectives have been agreed – but it is not totally reassuring that the implementation is in the hands of politicians in some forty States! In our new hi-tech world, Europe does not need all the current air traffic centers, which today number more than one per country.
In fact, it is likely that the whole of the European airspace could be adequately served by four to six air traffic control centers.
Reflecting on the inefficiencies of the current system David McMillan, the Director General of Eurocontrol, has concluded that the productivity of European ATMs is approximately half that of the U.S. systems. Beyond the technical complexities which are being addressed, the problem is very much political. Air traffic controllers are highly skilled and well paid professionals, whose function is supported by other skilled jobs. These specialists will quite naturally fight for their jobs – and politicians are reluctant to see these important jobs disappear from their constituencies. Privatization of the various air navigation services could be a less painful way for politicians to distance themselves from the issue.
In this regard UK-NATS – which is celebrating this year ten years as a P.P.P. – is a real success story! I had the privilege -and the pleasure – of serving on the Board of NATS for the first two years of its existence as a PPP, and they are a good example of what can be achieved. Consulting their latest Annual Report published in April, you will see that NATS was able to cut air traffic delays by over 95%, reduce operating costs by 30% in real terms, and improve its financial performance from a loss of 80million pounds in 2002 – to a profit of 106 million pounds in 2011.]
Spain has announced its intention to privatize its air traffic control system ahead of the partial privatization of its airports.
This would re-structure AENA, the Spanish government’s company which currently controls both. AENA’s air traffic controller costs have been by far the highest in Europe, and any attempt to bring these costs more in line with other ATCs has unleashed strong opposition from the Spanish Controllers’ Unions. Not surprisingly change – and more particularly potential change in ownership – has already caused unrest among controllers, and this is likely to accelerate.
Nevertheless – somehow – Europe is slowly creeping towards implementing a Single Sky through agreements to set up “Functional Airspace Blocks” (F.A.B.s). While these avoid the delicate subject of mergers, a F.A.B. attempts to achieve some of the operational effectiveness as if it was operated by one jurisdiction.
Recently Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland have signed an agreement to create a ‘’’Functional Airspace Block – Europe Central” (F.A.B.E.C.),which hopefully will streamline -if not eliminate – the current fragmentation of a major portion of the European airspace.
FABEC has received 13.8 million Euros in E.U. support for a study to be completed by the end of 2012. This is the third Functional Airspace Block to be set up, following on the UK. –Ireland F.A.B. and the Denmark-Sweden F.A.B.
There is evidence that this approach is developing a natural momentum.
States involved in the Northern European ATM Alliance – Denmark, Estonia, Norway, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Sweden, U.K, and Finland – are working together. It is reported that these States are setting up an executive management team to prepare legal and financial ground to enable a specific joint venture.
This alliance hopes to achieve greater operational efficiencies – and lower costs – across their common airspace. The Chief Executives of these various ATC providers believe that the experience gained by operating their respective F.A.B.s has enabled them to identify exciting opportunities – and practical ways – to drive efficiencies across their airspace.
This is likely to bring them closer to a possible, eventual , integration.
Meanwhile, it is vitally important to ensure that SESAR – and its U.S. counterpart, NextGen – progress in concert. U.S. and European specialists have been working for some time already on Atlantic inter-operability, and this year FAA personnel will become formally involved within SESAR – with some direct involvement down the road.
Unfortunately, as the recent tragic events in Norway demonstrated, no one today can hope to be sheltered from a potential terrorist attack.
While terrorism can hit our democratic society virtually anywhere, we keep being reminded that aviation will continue to be a favorite target. Why should airlines be such a favorite target? The reasons are relatively obvious:
- Our industry enjoys high visibility, and we have essentially a no-accident tolerance level;
- Aircraft accidents are unfortunately very spectacular – and are extensively covered by media;
- Any terrorist attack on an airliner – successful or not – has an immediate effect, hopefully short-term.
- It is disruptive to the economy of the region – if not the world.
The public expects that a terrorist attack on a commercial airliner will be prevented at all costs, and under all circumstances …. As a result, governments and the airline industry have been forced to take extraordinary measures beyond what any other industry would be expected to take.
Measures that are very costly to everyone – and most disruptive to passengers. Last June at its Annual General Meeting, IATA reported that the cost of security at airports – largely born by the airlines and the travellers – had soared to 7.4 billion US dollars. But there are additional costs, less visible.
The U.S. Travel Association (U.S.T.A.) recently released research that was carried out in 2010. This research showed that travellers in the U.S. are avoiding two to three trips per year, due to the unnecessary hassle associated with security screening at airports. U.S.T.A. has estimated the resulting cost to the U.S. economy to be approximately 85 billion US dollars – and a resulting loss of some 900,000 jobs.
While I am not aware of any similar research of the impact of airport security on European air travellers’ habits, it would not be surprising if a substantial number of air travellers each year are avoiding taking some trips. Indeed, some European politicians have been urging travellers to switch to trains, where possible – but in this case for ecological reasons.
Understandably, this can be an attractive option in Europe for short to medium distance trips, given also that security processes are a lot less onerous at any train station compared to any airport!
Perhaps because it is the most visible evidence of increased security, that so much effort and technology has been directed at airport screening.
One of the more recent introductions of technology at airports has been the controversial use of body scanners. The objections raised by a number of privacy and civil rights’ organizations in the U.S. demanded a suspension of the program on the basis that it was “uniquely intrusive” and violated travellers’ rights against unreasonable search (invoking the 4th Amendment).
This led to the introduction of new software which only shows generic body outlines – and therefore enhances privacy. But there are also other concerns. It would seem that body scanners’ maintenance was not always properly conducted. These records indicated that some full body scanners were shown to be emitting radiation levels ten times higher than expected.
Reacting to the situation, the European Parliament last summer passed a Resolution advising Member States that while “the European Parliament Members accept that body scanners would enhance security, they request that the technology be deployed in the least harmful way to human health and with concern for privacy”.
The Resolution further states that “due to health risks, scanners using ionizing radiation should be prohibited in the E.U.” The Members of Parliament were also urging that scanning be applied at random – without any discrimination or any form of profiling – and that no “body image” be stored and kept.
I would suggest that of all the nations which have had to confront security threats, few – if any – would match the State of Israel. It is my understanding that authorities in Israel look at security in four dimensions, namely:
- Intelligence; … and
The lack of information sharing was an obvious failure in the 9/11 terrorist attack. Most of the perpetrators and their motives were known by one national intelligence service or another – but no one was willing to share the information which might have enabled the whole story to emerge before the event. This major gap in our defenses does not appear to have been fully closed.
The failed 2009 Christmas Day attack continued to reveal a failure to “connect the dots”. Reviewing the incident, President Obama stated “this was not a failure to collect intelligence: it was a failure to understand the intelligence we already had which resulted in the suspect not being placed on the “no-fly” list. Among the questions of information sharing, the hotly debated exchange of passenger data was finally settled this summer between the United States and the European Union.
This Agreement would allow the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DMS) to store the data for fifteen years, rather than the five years which is today allowed in the E.U.’s passenger name record (PNR) scheme.
In parallel, the Department of Homeland Security (DMS) began a joint initiative with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO ) to reach a global consensus on better information collection, vetting and sharing of information about passengers before they even get to the airport.
Despite claims that this could amount to profiling, there is increasing acceptance for a proposal -supported by both the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Travel Association – to reform the current security screening system.
The proposal for a revised airport security screening process would, among other things, call for implementing a risk-based, trusted traveller program.
This should allow also greater focus on those who pose a greater threat.
The recommendation also suggests a need to reduce repeat screening of those arriving on international flights and connecting to domestic services.
Through ICAO, a number of governments – including the U.S.A. – are working to define standards for a checkpoint of the future.
At its last AGM , IATA unveiled a first mock-up of such a checkpoint .
Passengers would be directed to one of three lanes, namely known travellers ; normal; or enhanced security. The passenger would be directed on the basis of biometric identifiers contained in his or her passport or other travel document, that would trigger the result of a government previously-conducted risk assessment. We should be concentrating on bad people rather than on bad things being carried on board.
Aviation contributes approximately 2 percent of the total worldwide CO2 emissions …. This is still, at this time, a fairly modest contribution to global warming.
However, air traffic is projected to continue to grow at an average rate of 4.5 to 5 percent per year for the foreseeable future. And with this in mind, already some ten years ago, the air transport industry began to take steps to deal with this matter very seriously – first to contain, or reduce the growth of its carbon footprint , and to eventually reduce it in absolute terms.
This has led to the identification – and the commitment – to some rather ambitious targets. Those targets are now widely accepted, and enjoy the support of the entire air transport industry – the manufacturers, the airlines, the airports, and the navigation services.
Together, the members of the air transport industry have committed to:
- An annual improvement in fuel efficiency of 1.5 percent per year to 2020;
- Capping net emissions from 2020 onwards – in other words, achieving carbon neutral growth from then on;
- Cutting net aviation emissions by one half by 2050 compared to 2005.
These targets have received the support of the U.N. and its Secretary General, who commended the industry on its sectoral approach.
The industry has been working very closely with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), to achieve an international consensus among all nations.
Every member of this great industry is expected to make a contribution to CO2 emission reduction.
- We have already stated that the implementation of SESAR and NextGen is targeted to achieve a 10 percent improvement on average to flight environmental impact.
- The new generation of wide-body airplanes from Boeing and Airbus which are coming on line will contribute some 20 percent reduction in CO2 emissions.
- The next single aisle airplane generation in a decade or so will better than match this level of reduction.
- Biofuels are likely to make a significant contribution to carbon emissions reduction. The use of some biofuels has shown reductions of the order of 75 to 80 percent in CO2 emission. It is estimated that with some encouragement from government as much as 15 percent of the industry’s need could be met by biofuels by 2020.
Dozens of airlines have already operated flights with a mixture of conventional and biofuel, with satisfactory results (e.g. Qatar Airways, B.A., KLM, Finnair, Virgin Atlantic, etc.). Non-food biomass such as algae is a favorite, but many other sources are being tested.
For instance, B.A. has entered into a partnership with the Solena Group to build a sustainable jet fuel production facility. This plant is expected to convert about 500,000 tons of waste into 61 million litres of green fuel – which is double what would be required to make all of B.A.’s flights out of London City Airport carbon neutral.
And thus, we should feel confident that the airline industry is rising to the challenge and will meet its ambitious carbon emissions reduction targets.
So why would the European Community feel an absolute need to force fit international aviation into its Emissions Trading System? Along with the “cap and trade” principle, the E.U. also appears to believe that “one size fits all”. True, the ETS seems to have worked reasonably well for many industries since its inception in 2005, and somehow decided that airlines should be treated like any other sector of the economy. But international aviation is different. It is not an ordinary industry – as the World Trade Organization and the O.E.C.D., among others, have concluded.
International aviation is still largely governed by the Chicago Convention, which created ICAO and, indirectly, IATA. The founders of the International Civil Organization recognized that the nature of international aviation required – indeed demanded – and continues to require globally harmonized rules to function safely and efficiently.
Unfortunately, the E.U. has decided to move unilaterally on a subject which, by its own nature, requires international agreement!
This has created a crisis of major proportion. The U.S. airlines have launched a legal challenge against the E.T.S. in the European Court of Justice. The China Air Transport Association, representing the country’s airlines, has described the E.T.S. as “unreasonable and illegal” – and China has threatened to impose measures on European airlines.
The Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association, ALTA, has called on the governments of its region to reject the inclusion of international aviation in the E.U. Emissions Scheme.
Also expressing concerns, the European Airline Association – AEA – is urging the E.U. and the U.S. to accelerate negotiation towards a global approach within the ICAO forum. Central to the dispute is the decision by the E.U. to impose its scheme on all international flights from , or to, anywhere in the world that arrive at or depart from an E.U. airport.
To illustrate their perceived unfairness of this decision, the Air Transport Association provided the following example using a U.S. airline flight from San Francisco to London Heathrow.
The E.U. rule would apply to the aircraft even before the airplane begins to taxi from the gate and yet, as a percentage of emission:
- 29 percent would take place in U.S. airspace;
- 37 percent over Canadian airspace;
- 25 percent over the high seas …
- and only 9 percent over European airspace.
Of course, for a European airline operating a flight out of London Heathrow to San Francisco, a similar percentage of emissions would take place over these same airspaces. And what if the Canadian government and the U.S. authorities were to decide to impose a scheme of their own?
Clearly, the need for an international agreement appears obvious – and the sooner the better.
Mr. Chairman, there is no doubt in my mind that European commercial aviation still has an exciting future. Indeed, in the first six months of this year, the number of passengers in Europe grew by 63 million – which is more than 10%. But it is also facing some significant challenges.
The European airline industry is a very significant sector of the economy – and a prime engine of tourism. But it is not clear that government policies are adequately supportive of their economic importance. Market liberalization has significantly contributed to the expansion and the re-structuring of the industry – but at the same time, airlines and their customers are excessively taxed and saddled with expensive infrastructure. Valiant efforts are being made.
However, one is tempted to ask whether European politicians truly have the political will to speedily bring about an efficient, Single European Sky.
By contrast, the European airlines are facing competition from carriers – mainly in the Gulf – who enjoy full support and encouragement from their respective governments. Security at airports is costly, it is inconvenient, and there is a crying need for stronger European leadership to address the problem and bring about major improvements.
Finally, rather than recognizing the unique nature of international aviation and supporting the ambitious targets in carbon emissions reductions the industry is striving to achieve, the E.U. is attempting to impose its Regional ETS approach on an international issue. Mr. Chairman, Finland can be proud to have originated the world’s most popular game, presently being played on mobile phones, ipads, and the like – the famous “Angy Birds ”.
But Brussels and the E.U. can claim to have originated the latest, most unpopular proposal for international airlines – and have caused a lot of Angry Birds!