In the first meeting of its kind, five chief executives from Europe's biggest airlines met yesterday to lobby EU lawmakers to increase competition at European airports, lower taxes and limit labor strikes. "Europe needs a common strategy and comprehensive plan for our aviation industry," Carolyn McCall, chief executive of EasyJet, told journalists after the meeting. "It's overdue."
The executives of Air France-KLM, EasyJet, International Airlines Group, which oversees British Airways and Iberia, Lufthansa and Ryanair said they would form a new association aimed at representing their interests at the EU-level by October, in order to take their concerns to EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc.
Cutting airport costs, making airspace more efficient, including avoiding labor strikes such as those by air traffic controllers that have grounded hundreds of passengers in the last year, and reducing passenger taxes were among the executives' key demands. "It is really unacceptable that any of us operate in an airport with a single ground handler," McCall said. "It's very bad for customers, it's very bad for competition. The EU has to take that [up] because it is there to protect consumers and increase competition."
Carsten Spohr, an executive with German carrier Lufthansa, and Air France-KLM executive Alexandre de Juniac said one of the priorities was lowering the costs of airport security. Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary called for limiting labor strikes, including encouraging binding arbitration. "The market should be allowed to operate," said International Airlines Group executive Willie Walsh. "It is in the interest of our customers that we have a more efficient industry."