EasyJet calls for major European aviation rule changes

EasyJet calls for major European aviation rule changesTougher airport charging rules, a revamped single European sky, more competition in ground handling and freedom to allow airlines to trade take-off and landing slots form part of a manifesto for change presented by easyJet.

The budget carrier’s ‘vision for European aviation’ calls on the EU, governments and regulators to improve competitiveness in European aviation.

It comes as 

the European Commission works on a new aviation package.

The airline cited new research by Frontier Economics showing that tougher regulation of charges at 15 of Europe’s largest monopoly airports would save passengers €1.48 billion, increasing total one-way passenger trips by 12.2 million, which in turn would raise consumer and tourism spending, and boost trade.

The overall impact of better airports regulation would be an increase of GDP in the European Economic Area of €37 billion or around 470,000 jobs.

EasyJet says four key changes would provide benefits such as:

  • the move from dual till to single till regulation – when all revenues, both aeronautical and commercial, are taken into account when setting charges
  • the reduction of airports’ return on capital by just 0.5%
  • an increase in airports’ operating efficiency by 10% – reflecting the higher efficiency gains made by airlines, and
  • the removal of the subsidy of transfer passengers – the charges for whom are often half that of origin and destination passengers.

In a speech to the European Aviation Club, chief executive Carolyn McCall said: 
“The EU plays a crucial role in supporting European aviation and easyJet is a shining example of that – without the liberalisation of European skies we would not exist in our current form.‎

“Europe is currently debating which policy framework to put in place, at a national and EU level, to promote the competitiveness of EU aviation.

“In order to get the best outcome for consumers, we believe that this framework should be based on fair competition, freedom of choice, and with passengers at the heart of policy making.

“We are calling on EU policy makers to revise the Airport Charges Directive and to rethink how we deliver Single European Skies.

“If we just tackled these two issues, they would improve the efficiency of our industry, drive down fares for consumers and create billions of Euros of GDP, equivalent to hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Airlines to pass travel agents’ details to EU security services

Air passengers flying in and out of Europe will have their personal information provided at check-in stored on police databases for up to five years if the European Commission goes ahead with an anti-terror plan hatched in the wake of the attacks in Paris.

The plan, to be published today, would require 42 pieces of information on every passenger, including which travel agent they used, their bank card details, meal preferences such as halal and their addresses to be stored on a central European database, according to the Guardian.

Although civil liberties campaigners are trying to block the move, most European interior ministers including British home secretary Teresa May are backing the proposal, saying it will allow security services to track potential jihadists as they fly across the Continent.

Airlines are already obliged to provide data on individual passengers to British security services to allow them to intercept terrorist suspects.

Under the proposals agreed by European interior ministers on the day of the Je Suis Charlie march in Paris earlier this month, every airlines operating in Europe would have to collect the same data from passengers and share this with the security services of all 28 EU countries.

Sourced by Travelmole


Cyprus Airways ceases flying after EC ruling

Cyprus Airways ceases flying after EC rulingCyprus Airways ceased operations on Friday after the European Commission ordered the carrier to repay more than €100 million in state aid received in 2012-13.

An administrator will be appointed and Cyprus Airways’ operating licence be revoked as the carrier does not have the money.

Cyprus Airways has a fleet of six aircraft and employs 560 staff.

The carrier’s unions accused the government of failing to explain why it gave state aid.

Pilots’ union leader Petros Souppouris said: “Staff believe the government should do its utmost to keep the company operational or launch a fresh start with an investor.”

Ryanair was among a number of airlines to launch bids to take over Cyprus Airways last year.

The Irish carrier immediately offered one-way “rescue fares” from €49.99 to stranded passengers.

Earlier, EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Cyprus Airways had no possibility of becoming viable without further state subsidies.

In a statement she said: “Cyprus Airways has received large quantities of public money since 2007 but was unable to restructure and become viable without continued state support.

The commissioner added: “Injecting additional public money would only have prolonged the struggle without achieving a turnaround.”

The EC ruled that a restructuring package of €102 million the carrier received from the Cyprus government breached EU competition rules, arguing: “Cyprus Airways needs to pay back all incompatible air received. This is necessary to ensure a level playing field in the internal [European] market.”

Cyprus has four months to appeal against the decision and the airline has 10 years to make a repayment.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


European roaming charges to be scrapped

The European Parliament has voted to get rid of roaming fees for mobile phones when travelling abroad.

It means that from December 2015 UK holidaymakers will be able to make calls and download internet data in another EU country for the same cost that applies at home.

The change is expected to come into force on 15 December 2015 after approval from EU governments.

Roaming charges were reduced last year after the EU put rules into place that forced operators to cap their fees.

According to the BBC, a European Commission survey in February found 94% of Europeans use their phones less to avoid high charges, with stories regularly in the news about huge bills they have to cough up when returning from a holiday.

Sourced by Travel Daily UK


Europe Plans New Limits on Aid to Money-Losing Regional Airports

By Nicola Clark,

The European Commission announced new limits Thursday on the amount of financial aid that member states can provide to money-losing regional airports, a move that could eventually lead to higher fares for passengers traveling to some out-of-the way terminals served by low-cost carriers.

Under the new rules, which are expected to take effect next month, airports serving more than 5 million passengers a year will be barred from receiving any state support unless there is evidence of a “clear market failure.” And aid for most smaller airports, with fewer than 3 million passengers, will have to be phased out by 2024.

In a statement, Joaquín Almunia, the Union’s competition commissioner, called the new restrictions “a key ingredient for a successful and competitive European aviation sector,” which he said would “ensure the mobility of our citizens while preserving a level playing field between airports and airlines.”

The overhaul follows more than a decade of breakneck expansion in European air traffic, led by budget airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet. Small airports have grown especially rapidly. Between 2004 and 2012, airports serving fewer than 5 million passengers have seen traffic jump by 79 percent; traffic at those serving more than 5 million has risen by just 29 percent over the period, according to Transport and Environment, a lobbying group based in Brussels.

The Commission, the executive arm of the 28-member Union, said on Thursday that it was still reviewing more than two dozen cases of past subsidies granted to airports and to airlines, including the Dublin-based low-cost carrier Ryanair. The Commission said it would judge those cases — which involve regional airports in Germany, France, Austria, Italy, Sweden, Romania and Spain — based on their compliance with the new aid guidelines.

Legacy carriers like Air France-KLM and Lufthansa have long complained that public support for small airports puts them at a competitive disadvantage and serves as an indirect subsidy to low-cost rivals..

The availability of subsidies has also led to a decade-long boom in new, taxpayer-funded airport construction that has often pitted municipalities against one another in hopes of luring air travelers and new jobs.

But many of those airports have yet to turn a profit and are dependent on taxpayer support, which violates European competition rules. Some also are significantly underutilized by airlines, draining public coffers for their upkeep and failing to deliver much economic benefit.

Under the new rules, member states will continue to be allowed to cover the operating losses of small airports and to finance 25 percent to 75 percent of investments in new infrastructure for a maximum 10 years, beginning in 2014. Airports will need to present a business plan to qualify for aid and will be expected to increase the fees they charge to airlines, potentially leading to higher ticket prices.

The Commission set looser restrictions for Europe’s smallest airports, however, allowing those that serve fewer than 700,000 passengers per year to receive subsidies of up to 80 percent of operating losses. Member states will be required to review such support after five years, but they will not be required to phase it out entirely.

Airport groups applauded what they saw as a measured approach by the Commission that recognized the role that air connectivity plays in economic development. But they also expressed concern that the restrictions could hamper future investment in airport infrastructure as demand for air travel rises across the region.

“In order for Europe to stay globally relevant, we should be able to address airport investment as flexibly as our peers in other world regions,” ACI Europe, a trade group representing 450 of the region’s airports, said in a statement.

Environmental groups expressed frustration that the Commission did not take a tougher stance against the air transport sector. They said the industry already receives generous breaks on fuel and value-added taxes while being responsible for about 5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The new guidelines “open the floodgates to increased operating aid for airports,” for at least the next decade, Bill Hemmings of the Transport and Environment lobbying group said in a statement. “Why must everybody pay so that the better off can fly more often and for cheaper?”

Sourced by New York Times


MEPs vote to strengthen air passenger rights

By Tom Newcombe

The European Parliament has backed proposals from the European Commission to strengthen air passenger rights.

MEPs passed the bill to give travellers better rights to information, care and re-routing, when they are stranded at an airport.

The bill, which would apply across the 28 countries in the European Union, would also require airlines to have staff to inform passengers about their rights, as well as laying out procedures for complaints and reimbursements.

The changes are largely in response to problems exposed during the ash cloud crisis in 2010.

Under current rules, airlines do not have to pay compensation for flight delays or cancellations caused by “extraordinary circumstances”.

The proposal from the European Commission would cap the compensation amount to the original cost of the ticket.
The Commission claims that currently only 2% of airline passengers entitled to compensation actually receive it.

“Air passenger rights concern practically every citizen of the European Union,” said Georges Bach, the lawmaker responsible for steering the legislation through parliament.

“It’s a David versus Goliath story and I believe the text we have voted today strikes a reasonable balance between the airlines and the passenger rights.

“We improved consumer protection on the one hand while recognising the flexibility that this industry requires on the other.”

Among the measures proposed by the European Commission are:

  • Misspelling: Passengers to have the right to correct a spelling mistake in a name “free of charge”.
  • Complaint handling: Passengers to be given the right to a response to their complaint within two months and an acknowledgement of a complaint within a week (there is currently no time limit).
  • Right to care: Parliament supports the Commission’s proposal to introduce a right to care for passengers after a delay of two hours, for all flights irrespective of distance.
  • Connecting flights: Parliament backs the Commissions’ proposal to clarify that rights to assistance and compensation apply, if you miss your connecting flight because the previous flight was late.
  • Luggage: A proposal to give national authorities enforcement powers over lost luggage rules.

European Commission’s vice president Siim Kallas said it’s important air passenger rights don’t just exist on paper.

“We all need to be able to rely on them when it matters most – when things go wrong,” said Kallas.

“We know that the real priority for stranded passengers is just to get home. So our focus is on information, care and effective rerouting.

“The aim is to get passengers where they want to be as quickly as possible while giving the airlines the time they need to sort problems out.”

The Council of Transport Ministers and the European Parliament will negotiate a final agreement on the air passenger rights legislation in May 2014.

Sourced from buyingbusinesstravel


AEA urges Europe to compromise on Emissions Trading Scheme

AEA urges Europe to compromise on Emissions Trading Scheme By Joe Bates,

The Transport and Tourism Committee of the European Parliament (TRAN) today voted in favour of a reasonable compromise on the aviation Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

The Association of European Airlines (AEA) has wasted little time in praising the decision and is now urging the European Parliament to listen to their transport colleagues.

In autumn last year, ICAO agreed on a roadmap to develop a global market-based measure to reduce carbon emissions from international aviation, for adoption at the next ICAO Assembly in 2016.

This agreement had been facilitated by the EU’s decision to exclude international flights from ETS in 2012 (‘Stop the clock’).

Following the agreement in ICAO, the European Commission presented a proposal that reduces the original scope of the ETS to cover all flights within European airspace, despite the fact that such a concept was rejected at the ICAO assembly last year.

Currently, the three Committees in the European Parliament are discussing the Commission’s proposal.

According to AEA, the decision taken by the transport specialists demonstrates their understanding of the fact that European airlines could be exposed to retaliatory measures from third countries in their day-to-day operations and business development.

At the same time, AEA claims that TRAN members showed their support for the approach taken at ICAO level.

“The aviation ETS must not hamper the progress at ICAO towards a global agreement on reducing emissions from international aviation”, says AEA CEO, Athar Husain Khan.

AEA welcomes that TRAN restricts the scope of aviation ETS to flights within the European Economic Area.

This move, it claims, would reduce the risk of international controversy and confirms that global issues such as emissions from international aviation need a global solution.

However, uncertainty remains about the situation in the years 2017 up to 2020.

Sourced by Routes-News


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