president and new Association of European Airlines (AEA) chairman Leo van Wijk
is calling for a close examination of the European air transport system in
order to ensure that airlines remain viable businesses, particularly given the
changes in the industry following last year’s attacks on the USA.
down his priorities as he takes over the AEA lead from Air France CEO
Jean-Cyril Spinetta, van Wijk says that it is necessary to establish a
blueprint for a sustainable system, adding that the European Union White Paper
unveiled in September last year is “a good starting point”.
he says that airlines, in addition to the increased costs of security and poor
passenger numbers, are facing further expense pressures from insurance firms
and air traffic control authorities.
along the line, from aircraft manufacturers through airport and airspace
providers, support services to distribution media, we seem to be providing
steady returns for everybody – but fail ourselves even to earn our cost of
capital,” he says. “The airlines are the weakest link in the chain.”
associated with the distribution of slots, increased air traffic control
charges and revised passengers’ rights, he adds, are “not new” but van Wijk
says that the current economic and operating environments have arguably
highlighted the consequences more clearly than ever before.
says that the airlines must work with regulators, governments and other parties
to resolve the problems, adding: “The airlines can no longer afford to operate
within the traditional framework of fragmented answers and isolated solutions.
costs of a fragmented approach – both in terms of financial costs and
ineffective public policies – can no longer be explained to our customers,
employees and shareholders.”