Gulf carrier Etihad Airways has welcomed the European Commission (EC) review of aviation policy as a chance to embrace “bold reforms” that put competition and passengers’ interests in the spotlight.

In its submission to the EC’s Strategic Aviation Package Etihad said its involvement in Europe—it has stakes of varying size in five European carriers—gives it a “unique perspective” on what is required to drive the industry forward.

The Strategic Aviation Package has a number of aims, including policies that will lay down Europe’s 10- to 15-year air transport strategy, give new powers to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and establish rules for drone use.

“The Strategic Aviation Package … represents a significant ‘window of opportunity’ to strengthen the European air transport sector as an economic and social enabler, and a key driver of growth,” the airline said in a statement.

Among its suggestions are to put competition and consumers at the forefront of policy development; to think globally, not locally; to ensure connectivity is at the heart of EU aviation and transport policy; and to support innovation in business models, not artificially constrain them.

The airline supported its submission with research from three consultancies, Oxford Economics, Edgeworth Economics and The Risk Advisory Group.

Among this research, the Risk Advisory Group prepared an analysis of the state support received by European flag carriers prior to and following their privatization. Etihad said that while it did not challenge the European system, it sought to demonstrate it had created a distorted playing field for new entrants.

“Aviation in 2015 is global, not local,” Etihad president and CEO James Hogan said of the European review. “By taking a strategic and holistic approach to aviation policymaking, the European Commission can deliver meaningful change, not just for Europe, but also for the benefit of air travelers and the airline industry worldwide, just as the US did with its visionary Open Skies Policy.

“The European Commission has declared that it wants to revive Europe as an economic powerhouse, and a hub for jobs, for growth and for investment.  Air transport is essential for such a promising agenda and for international trade.

“Etihad recognizes the enormous growth achieved by liberalization of intra-European airline operations, and urges the European Commission to now be the catalyst for global air transport reforms by easing restrictions on non-European airline access to member states and global investment in airlines domiciled within the EU.”

Source: 2015-06-22

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