Fri 20 June 2008 – Chief executives from European airlines and airports have heavily criticized recent amendments put forward by the European Parliament’s Environment Committee and have also warned of the possible negative environmental and competitive impact of a “looming airport capacity crunch”, which would add to deficiencies in the European air traffic management system.
They also warned that high fuel costs and an impending recession could lead to possible route and frequency reductions by airlines in the coming months with damaging repercussions for airports, especially regional ones.
Ahead of the annual assembly of the Airports Council International Europe (ACI Europe), management boards representing ACI Europe and the Association of European Airlines (AEA) met to discuss and review “the growing array of industry challenges”.
On the issue of the environment, the two boards restated the need for aviation “to address its impact on climate change in an environmentally effective and economically way”. The boards also expressed “deep concern” at developments on the proposed inclusion of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.
Peter Hartman, Chairman of the AEA and CEO of KLM, said: “Regarding the need for a global emissions trading scheme, although it is good that Europe has taken the lead in developing a model, the political discussion on this ETS model has turned what is supposed to be a tool to manage emissions into a punitive weapon to batter the European aviation sector. Such an ETS has no value as a blueprint for eventual global agreement, and by merely making European airlines uncompetitive and drive passengers into aircraft from non-EU countries, it has no benefit for the environment and has mutated into an ordinary tax.”
Dr Yiannis Paraschis, President of ACI Europe and CEO of Athens International Airport said: “European airports have been long-time advocates of the inclusion of aviation in the EU ETS, but the latest developments would impose unjustified and punitive conditions on the aviation industry. It is alarming, to say the least, that these amendments have been voted upon in the Environment Committee without any impact assessment. If confirmed, they would put the international credibility of the EU’s stance on climate change at risk.”
The two boards also considered the environmental gains that should be realized by reforming the European Air Traffic Management “patchwork”, and “looked forward” to the imminent adoption by the European Commission of a second regulatory package for the Single European Sky project.
They urged the Commission to “ensure that it will provide the collaborative stimulus to force Member States to deliver existing commitments on defragmentation and that it will be accompanied by the necessary call-to-action regarding airport capacity.”
Said Hartman: “We need an efficient air traffic management system. Inefficiency on the scale of the present system can be measured in billions of euros each year. Because it is inefficient, it is anti-European. Because it gives rise to delays, it is anti-consumer. Because airlines are forced to fly holding patterns and indirect routings, it is anti-environment. The Single European Sky reduces the environmental impact of aviation because, if implemented, airlines could reduce CO2 emissions by 12 million tonnes.”
Dr Paraschis added: “It is about time the EU aligned ATM and airport capacity objectives. For years, the Single European Sky project has been developed in splendid isolation with a focus on doubling capacity in the sky, without meaningful consideration for what happens on the ground. If airport capacity is not addressed at EU level, the project will fail and with it, European aviation. We need environmentally-robust capacity on the ground, to complement what is being created in the air.”
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