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ERA working plan for 2023

ERA has recently developed a working plan for 2023, outlining our work priorities and main policy asks for the coming months. The programme is structured around four topics, reflecting ERA’s mission: boosting regional connectivity, ensuring the competitiveness of European regional aviation, campaigning for improvements in air safety, operational efficiency & ATM modernisation and championing environmental & social responsibilities.

1. Boosting regional connectivity

Regional connectivity is at the core of the association’s work. An effective EU regulatory framework to ensure proper connectivity in all European regions both for freight and passenger traffic, whilst fostering the sector’s sustainability should be developed. In this respect, ERA will continue its efforts in advocating for a revision of the Air Services Regulation No 1008/2008 and in particular, the Public Service Obligation (PSO) framework: maintaining these essential routes after the COVID-19 pandemic is vital for the future viability of regional airlines and the connectivity and services they provide for the communities they serve. In addition, the revision of the ASR should be combined with specific support measures for the aviation sector, to be introduced under the new EC Aviation Guidelines.

2. Ensuring the competitiveness of European regional aviation

Boosting regional connectivity goes hand in hand with ensuring the competitiveness of European regional aviation in Europe. To reach this objective, it is essential that the provisions of the CRS Code of Conduct are introduced in the new Multimodal Digital Mobility Services (MDMS) proposal: such provisions will ensure that CRSs and large intermediaries will not discriminate against airlines, in particular the smaller ones.

In addition, ERA will continue its advocating campaign towards EU policymakers to ensure fair competition and access of smaller carriers to larger hubs for sake of regional connectivity. The future proposal on the General Slots Regulation No 95/93 and the upcoming new Airport Charges Guidelines must ensure connecting traffic for regional carriers at all major European airports as well as no discrimination among carriers on the size of the aircraft.

ERA has also identified the need to develop specific measures at EU level to prevent uncompetitive practices like ‘price dumping’ by certain low-cost carriers, as these practices are putting significant pressure on regional airlines by directly impacting their competitiveness within the European Single Market.

Border controls should also be eased. In this respect, ERA will continue to advocate for the postponement of the implementation of the Entry Exit System (EES) until after the busy 2023 summer period will give airlines, airports and EU and national authorities the opportunity to resolve technical issues and ensure the system is fully tested. In parallel, ERA will also monitor the future discussions in both the European Parliament and Council on the new Advanced Passenger Information (API) regulations to ensure that no additional burden is placed on regional carriers.

ERA will also reinforce its fight against the disproportionate costs of Regulation No 261/2004 for regional carriers by identifying opportunities through other EU regulatory files to address issues related to the current framework and strongly opposing any worsening of the current rules in context of the new EC ‘Better protection for passengers and their rights’ initiative.

3. Promotion & co-ordination of air safety, operational efficiency & ATM modernisation

Since the publication of the Single European Sky recast proposal by the European Commission, ERA has been advocating for an ambitious regulatory framework that enables both a cost-effective and fuel-efficient airspace, providing benefits and in support of the EU Green Deal and the Destination 2050 targets. This includes airspace interoperability and technical innovation through enhanced functional use of airspace, continued SESAR co-ordination and the deployment of Common Projects and the associated Airspace Functionalities, and an enhanced role for the Network Manager through enhanced planning and co-ordination functions whilst protecting essential connectivity and regional operations.

In the near term, ERA continues to work closely with the Network Manager with regards to ongoing recovery of traffic to pre-pandemic levels and the mitigation of air traffic flow management delays that we expect to be present in the ECAC area as a result of staffing, capacity and traffic complexities brought about by the inaccessibility of Ukrainian and neighbouring airspaces.

The Communication, Navigation and Surveillance (CNS) arena is one that ERA is following closely, in particular the PBN implementing rule that will be fully realised in 2030, but in the medium term focus is on the Flight and Flow in a Collaborative Environment (FF-ICE) mandate which is a key component of the Common Project 1 regulation that will see all airlines operating in the European Air Traffic Management Network (EATNM) being required to all flight-plans in a FIXM format from 1 January 2026. Whilst we are fully supportive of the move towards trajectory based operations, something FF-ICE will enable, operational and system readiness remains a cause for concern and ERA is actively lobbying for a measured and proportional transition that will deliver in the interest of members and the Network.

The PART IS provisions on the management of information security risks come into force on 16 October 2025. This, along with wider security issues affecting the industry following the publication of the new aviation security strategy from the Commission in February this year, will be a focus for the association going forward through 2023 ensuring that voice and views of the regional and cargo carriers in membership is heard with Member States, institutions and agencies.

With new methods of stakeholder consultation being agreed by EASA’s Management Board, Members State and Stakeholder Advisory Bodies, it is important that ERA is able to support these new working arrangements (following a transition period in 2023) and we will work closely with membership as to how best address this during the course of the next 12 months.

4. Championing environmental & social responsibilities

When it comes to championing environmental responsibilities, ERA is committed to supporting a transition to more sustainable aviation. Ensure SAF accessibility at regional airports is a key priority for ERA carriers. The ReFuel initiative will certainly provide a regulatory incentive for the use of SAF and a concrete step towards the decarbonisation of aviation, but it should not be disconnected from the reality and ensure that regional carriers will have concrete access to SAF at small airports and without this service being subject to additional charges. In parallel, ERA will continue its advocacy campaign to strongly oppose the implementation of a kerosene tax under the current revision of the Energy Taxation Directive.

Short-haul flights will be the first segments where zero-carbon technologies will be tested and regional carriers will therefore lead the sector in the operation of new green aircraft in the coming years. In this respect, ERA will ensure that EU Taxonomy will provide incentives for fleet renewal and continue advocating for the development of financial incentives and investment tools to allow regional airlines to invest in new technologies.

In parallel, the EU Year of Skills and the upcoming 2023 EU-ECAC Dialogue will allow ground for discussions on the current staff shortages experienced in our industry and the deterioration of aviation’s image. In this respect, ERA will promote the deployment of a ‘Diversity Charter’, encouraging more female into the sector investments in different initiatives to encourage future generations to pursue careers in aviation.