Etihad to Europe: Let's Open Up Competition
Etihad Airways is answering its critics in Europe over the Open Skies Agreements – and taking it a giant step further.
The Persian Gulf carrier has submitted a nine-point, multi-page report to the European Commission entitled the “Strategic Aviation Package,” designed to overhaul the aviation industry overseas.
Not surprisingly, Etihad’s main point is to better facilitate competition and consumer choice in the marketplace, ease restrictions on market access and investments in European airlines by non-European airlines – read: the Persian Gulf carriers – and address infrastructure issues.
Etihad, Emirates and Qatar airlines have been taken to task by American, Delta and United in the U.S., and Lufthansa and Air France-KLM in Europe, for allegedly receiving government subsidies that have altered the marketplace in international travel.
In a statement, Etihad President and Chief Executive Officer James Hogan, said: “Aviation in 2015 is global, not local. By taking a strategic and holistic approach to aviation policy-making, the European Commission can deliver meaningful change, not just for Europe, but also for the benefit of air travelers and the airline industry worldwide, just as the U.S. did with its visionary Open Skies Policy.”
Etihad’s nine points for improvement are:
1. Put competition and consumers at the forefront of policy development;
2. Think globally, not locally;
3. Ensure that connectivity is at the heart of EU aviation and transport policy;
4. Support innovation in business models, and not artificially constrain them;
5. Promote transparency, efficiency and legal certainty in order to attract external investment;
6. Take a holistic approach to security;
7. Tackle regulatory obstacles and infrastructure inefficiencies, and fully reflect Better Regulation practices;
8. Encourage structural reforms in the air transport industry, and;
9. Promote open skies.
The report also included independent research that showed that in 2015, Etihad Airways will contribute €1.7 billion to EU GDP through connectivity improvements.
“The European Commission has declared that it wants to revive Europe as an economic powerhouse, and a hub for jobs, for growth and for investment. Air transport is essential for such a promising agenda and for international trade,” Hogan said. “Etihad Airways recognizes the enormous growth achieved by liberalization of intra-European airline operations, and urges the European Commission to now be the catalyst for global air transport reforms by easing restrictions on non-European airline access to member states and global investment in airlines domiciled within the EU. Such liberalization would align with the Commission’s commitment to adopt policies which create investment, employment and economic confidence, while also providing access to new sources of capital via international investment.”
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