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Aci Europe: airports issue reminder of real value of the EU Aviation Strategy

Brussels, Belgium - External markets as primary focus; responding to airlines' reaction

Following the publication by the European Commission of the Inception Impact Assessment on the EU airport charges directive, the European airport industry today expressed its view on the document, as well as on the progress of the EU Aviation Strategy, launched two years ago. Reacting to yet another call by A4E (Airlines for Europe) for a revision of the airport charges directive, ACI EUROPE noted that its evaluation is not part of the 2018 Work Programme of the Commission. This reflects the fact that this evaluation is –quite rightly– not considered a priority by the Commission, under the EU Aviation Strategy. Primary focus: external markets Indeed, the primary focus of the EU Aviation Strategy is developing connectivity through the establishment of comprehensive new aviation agreements with third countries. Over the past two years, a number of important initiatives have been taken by the Commission in this regard. This includes aviation negotiations being initiated –and making good progress– with the 10 member countries of ASEAN (which currently rank among the most dynamic aviation markets in the world) as well as, Qatar and Turkey. It also includes aviation negotiations that have just been concluded with Armenia and Azerbaijan. While opening up market access with emerging markets is of the utmost relevance in terms of further developing air connectivity, ACI EUROPE notes that A4E does not support this objective. This reflects the protectionist stance of a number of major European airlines, which is at odds with consumer interest and limits aviation’s ability to support wider economic development. Responding to airlines' reaction A4E’s call for a revision of the EU directive on airport charges is equally driven by airlines’ self-interest. It is only about boosting their bottom line, at a time when they are posting record profits –it is certainly not about benefiting consumers. Believing that tighter regulation of airports with the objective of lowering airport charges -as advocated by A4E- would result in lower air fares for consumers, is naïve in the extreme.

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