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Fri, Sep 30, 2011

EBAA Says Airport Slots Revision Must Fairly Address Needs Of All Users

Says Recent Recommendations Heavily Favor Commercial Airliners

In remarks Thursday at the European Airport Coordinators Association’s (EUACA) Seminar held in Amsterdam, the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) applauded the European Commission’s initiative to revise the Regulation on airport slots, but cautioned against over-simplicity in the choice of indicators for the purpose of the revision.

Mr. Alec Werner, General Counsel and Director of Corporate Affairs at NetJets Europe, one of the most prominent members of the Association, said in his speech: “In 2010, the European aviation industry boasted the second largest fleet of business aircraft in the world, comprising over 4,000 aircraft and ensuring the operation of almost 700,000 movements within and outside the European continent. Despite the economic difficulties, business aviation represents 7.3% of Eurocontrol’s IFR traffic, indicating corporate Europe’s need for timely, point-to-point, safe and sustainable air travel for business purposes. For this to continue, however, access to infrastructure is an absolute must.”

This access would be at risk if the Commission were to follow all of the recommendations of the recently published Steer Davies & Gleave (SDG) Impact Assessment report, which suggests that the number of passengers carried by aircraft should be the sole performance indicator in the allotment of new slots.

“This report is blind to the full impact of the entire aviation industry on local and regional economies. All of its arguments are based on the premise that maximum passenger throughput is the be-all and end-all, and as a result, it consistently seeks ways that passenger throughput can be maximized, regardless of the economic impact on sectors other than airports and airlines,” says Brian Humphries (pictured), EBAA President. “Yet, as various major EC and European Parliamentary reports have highlighted, all sectors of aviation play a key role in the economic well-being and growth of European and national economies.”

Business aviation has no significant need to operate at main hubs, not least because these hubs are tailored to the specific needs of the airlines. Instead the sector has historically attempted to use secondary or regional airports as a means of relieving pressure on the major hubs. Over the last decade though, scheduled air transport’s expansion on secondary and regional airports has steadily encroached on the non-scheduled operators, resulting in further restricted access, as well as a significant negative impact on the financial viability of business aviation’s ground-based investments.

EBAA proposes therefore that the best solution would be to guarantee a number of slots (based on historical usage) per day to business aviation operators at regional airports, allowing those operators to use the slots jointly, similarly to the arrangements in airline alliances.

“We caution against a lost opportunity. A revision, which we support, should be the occasion for the regulator to put the cards back on the table, not to strengthen up those aspects precisely in need of a revision,” said Fabio Gamba (pictured), EBAA Chief Executive Officer. “It must be remembered that business aviation is not in competition with the airlines, but rather meets a specific need. It takes its customer from the airport nearest their starting point to the airport nearest to their destination. As a well-established and important part of the European aviation infrastructure, we trust that serious consideration will be given to the retention of grandfather rights for business aviation at secondary airports in which the sector has made huge investments and created many jobs, and from which it dutifully serves the European economy.”

FMI: www.ebaa.org
 

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