Airports Council International Europe president Ad Rutten has warned Europe's politicians that the continent's economy risks becoming isolated from the growth areas of the world unless they address aviation infrastructure capacity, and embrace more liberalised bilateral aviation treaties.

Lack of airport capacity not only limits the growth of Europe's aviation industry, but its potential to trade in all sectors, said Rutten, and existing aviation treaties are a straitjacket to growth.

Speaking at the 16-18 June ACI Europe Annual Assembly, Rutten told delegates: "The maturity of the European aviation market and the boom of aviation in emerging countries mean that our most promising business opportunities are now outside Europe. We must be in a condition to attract and develop air traffic flows to and from our external markets."

Fast-growing economies in Asia and Latin America represent opportunities for European economic growth, he said, but if the airline connections with them are sub-optimal, so will trade be.

Announcing this new strategy, Europe's airports are pressing "for renewed political commitment and adequate resources for the European Commission to boost efforts to extend the European aviation market to the East and across the Mediterranean".

Rutten cited the EU/Brazil Aviation agreement up for approval by the EU Council of Transport Ministers. European airports are also calling for reciprocal liberalisation with the EU's main trading partners in emerging countries, in particular with Brazil, India, China, Mexico and the ASEAN countries.

Rutter added: "While emerging countries around the globe are wisely capitalising on aviation to boost their economies, Europe still lacks a proper industrial policy for aviation."

Source: Flight International