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Think globally, Etihad tells European Union

Think globally, Etihad tells European Union

Promote open skies and ease restrictions on market access, airline suggests.

By (Staff Report)

Published: Tue 16 Jun 2015, 9:48 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:45 PM

Abu Dhabi — Etihad Airways has urged the European Commission to embrace “bold, exciting and world-leading reforms” as part of the Strategic Aviation Package to overhaul Europe’s air transport industry.

In a detailed submission to the Commission, the airline advocates a policy which actively facilitates competition and consumer choice, addresses critical shortfalls in aviation infrastructure and eases restrictions on market access and investments by non-European airlines.

Three top US airlines and leading European airlines have been lobbying with their governments on what they claim are unfair financial advantages enjoyed by the world’s top rated carriers — Emirates airlines, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways.

Early in June, Etihad Airways presented its case to the US State Department, Department of Transport and other agencies, in which it said the US airlines have gained more than $70 billion in benefits from government and through legal processes such as Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganisation over the last 15 years.

Etihad Airways says: “The Strategic Aviation Package proposed by the European Commission represents a significant window of opportunity to strengthen the European air transport sector as an economic and social enabler and a key driver of growth through bold, exciting and world-leading initiatives which improve the efficiency of the industry and increase global flight connectivity.”

The airline urged Europe to put competition and consumers at the forefront of policy development and think globally, not locally. The airline asked to ensure that connectivity is at the heart of European Union (EU) aviation and transport policy, promote transparency, efficiency and legal certainty to attract external investment, encourage structural reforms in the air transport industry and promote open skies.

The airline has supported its submission with expert research from three global consultancies — Oxford Economics, Edgeworth Economics and The Risk Advisory Group.

In its economic impact study, Oxford Economics showed that Etihad Airways’ core operations and capital spending in 2015 alone will support over 51,200 European jobs and contribute €3.3 billion to the EU’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The report also shows that in 2015, Etihad Airways will contribute €1.7 billion to EU GDP through connectivity improvements.

The Risk Advisory Group prepared an analysis of state support received by European flag airlines prior to and following their privatisation. While Etihad Airways does not challenge the European system, it seeks to demonstrate that this system has created a distorted playing field for new entrants.

Edgeworth Economics conducted an analysis of competition and connectivity in the European air travel industry which showed significant growth in flights and demand between Europe and key regions served by Etihad Airways, as well as the competition and connectivity impact of Etihad’s equity investments and codeshare partnerships.

James Hogan, president and CEO of Etihad Airways, 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 travellers and the airline industry worldwide, just as the US did with its visionary Open Skies Policy.”

Etihad Airways has invested in five European airlines — Alitalia (49 per cent), airberlin (29 per cent), Air Serbia (49 per cent), Aer Lingus (4.99 per cent) and the Swiss regional operator Darwin Airline, which trades under the Etihad Regional brand (33 per cent).

In addition to strengthening these airlines and providing more choice for travellers to, from and within Europe, the investments by Etihad Airways have supported more than 17,000 European jobs within partner airlines, and supported European economies through increased flights, improved connectivity and local expenditure and investments.


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