On 7 December, the European Commission presented its new Aviation Strategy for Europe, outlining the actions that the EU wants to do to ensure fair, secure and sustainable air travel not only in Europe, but worldwide. EU aviation and air customers benefited tremendously from the EU´s open sky approach and the EU would like to promote this model globally. Nowadays, there are often monopolies on routes between countries. Opening all routes to any carrier would promote competition, leading to better services and lower prices for customers. Also, EU antitrust rules do not allow the EU or its member states to subsidize substantially its air carriers – as opposed to the huge amounts of money given by the governments to Middle Eastern carriers (Emirates, Etihad) or Turkish airports (Turkey is subsidizing the Istanbul airport massively). This means EU is in disadvantageous position and its carriers are losing in this unfair competition. Rather than open antitrust investigations and court cases, the EU seeks to open dialogues with these and other countries to create a level competition field and open up markets. Apart from Turkey and the Gulf countries, the EC would like to sign an aviation deal with China, ASEAN countries and Mexico. As of today, the EU has a similar deal with Canada, the US and the agreement with Brazil is close to conclusion.
The EU itself is also facing an internal challenge. Increase in air traffic risks serious capacity problems in the not so far away future. Therefore the EC aims to promote ways of increasing capacity and decreasing congestion by allowing for using shorter, more direct air routes, and promoting innovative software solutions to manage air traffic.
Another key aspect of the strategy is to maintain the high level of EU standards in aviation, and to promote them outside the EU. This entails not only aviation security, but also environmental standards, passenger rights and social issues. As part of this axis, the EU will investigate ways to promote so-called one-stop security – passengers arriving on EU territory and changing flights there would not need to go through security again, is the country of origin of their first flight has the same safety standards as the EU.
Lastly, the EU will promote innovation in aviation industry. The main focus here is on commercial use of drones, but it is not the only issue. Innovative solutions for aviation will be supported by EU money, at least €430 million annually until 2020.
The pragmatic approach chosen by the EU (bilateral aviation agreements, commercial use of drones, optimization of air traffic management, one-stop security checks, all of these while maintaining high EU standards) were praised by the industry representatives, POLITICO reported.
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