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First aviation round table meeting



ERA took part at the first virtual aviation round table meeting jointly organised by DG MOVE and DG COMP on 28 May. The purpose of the meeting was to gather the views of airline associations on the Coronavirus recovery strategy, whilst maintaining a link to the main EU policy objectives for air transport.

During her presentation which was strongly built on feedback received from ERA members, Director General Montserrat Barriga highlighted the extremely complicated nature of planning an exit strategy due to constantly changing measures of EU member states. Therefore, it is imperative that any recovery plan is agreed on the widest possible basis – preferably under EU leadership – so that the same principles are applied at origin and destination.

In the current environment where airlines are short of cash, are trying to plan adequate resources for an unpredictable demand and regain passenger confidence, the appetite for risk in new strategic adventures is reduced. In terms of risks, unevenly spread government aid all over Europe might lead to shift in market powers where possible airline bankruptcies will have a direct impact on the economic recovery of the European regions and the people living there. In this context, the role of the European Commission towards levelling of the playing field in the competition arena and in ensuring the principles of non-discrimination was highlighted.   

It was stressed that all measures at EU level should be aimed at mitigating costs, protecting revenues and routes, and avoiding any additional burden on airlines. In addition, the airline industry needs the following exceptional measures: a waiver of the ATC charges, an extension to the slot waiver into W2020/21 season, flexibility in ongoing or planned policy issues and introduction of a digital single sky through an efficient and integrated air traffic management system. ERA reiterated that the EU261 reform shall continue including the consideration given to safety issues and a permanent provision on refundable vouchers in case of cancellations as a result of serious pandemics of a global crisis. A suggestion was also made to broaden the scope of PSO routes in form of a new funding programme that would address support for routes that do not have a viable alternative by land.

In the field of sustainability, EU support is needed through scaled-up investment programmes in the following areas: Clean Sky and Clean Aviation programme to develop the next generation of technologies for cleaner aircraft and engines; SESAR to enhance the benefits of SES, increase production and uptake of SAF, through R&D support and adequate legislation availability of EIB lending facilities for investments in new aircraft; and clarity on CORSIA’s baseline as soon as possible. To allow all this, the EU Recovery Plan under the Green Deal needs to include aviation as a basic sector in the foundation of the post-COVID-19 economic recovery of Europe.

The complete submission containing all details on suggestions made to the European Commission, is accessible for ERA members from the downloads section.