Here’s What Airlines Want For Christmas

Incoming Transport Commissioner for the European Union, Adina-Iona Vălean, has held a meeting with airline CEOs to discuss their vision for the future. The airline CEOs, all members of Airlines4Europe, laid out priorities for 2020 ahead of the publication of the new EU Green Deal strategy. We take a look at what they wished for.

Santa plane
Santa’s been! But can he bring airlines what they really want? Photo: Marsa Alam International Airport

The wish list of airlines

What did you get in your stocking this Christmas Day? Hopefully, it was what you wanted, but what did airlines ask for this festive season? We can have a pretty good guess, as earlier this month some of Europe’s leading airline CEOs met with the new EU Transport Commissioner, Adina-Iona Vălean, to set out their wish list for 2020. Here’s what they asked for.

A4E CEO meeting
Airlines4Europe CEOs meet with the new Transport Commissioner. Photo: A4E

Close collaboration with industry on climate change goals

If there’s one thing that the aviation industry will associate with 2019, it’s flight shame. It’s a term we hadn’t heard this time last year, but not it’s all the rage. Aviation’s impact on the environment will continue to be a strong focus moving into 2020 and, despite what’s already been achieved, the sector needs to be seen to be doing its bit.

In the last 30 years, aviation has reduced its carbon footprint by 25%, largely by the use of more fuel efficient aircraft and through optimizing operations. Right now, flying is responsible for just 2% of global CO2 emissions. Nevertheless, airlines want to continue pushing for more sustainable operations and believe that close collaboration will help them achieve this.

Incentives and investments for sustainability instead of new taxes on aviation

Green taxes on aviation are a by-product of the global push for climate action. However, in most cases, they are not working as they should. Ideally, the money collected from such taxes would be plowed back into making aviation more sustainable for the future. In the majority of situations, the money disappears into public funds, doing nothing to help shape the future of flight.

Dutch aviation
The IATA has warned additional taxation could be detrimental to the Dutch economy. Photo: KLM

IATA previously demonstrated how harmful aviation taxes could be on economies, highlighting the impact a Dutch aviation tax would have on employment and GDP. Airlines want their home countries to rethink aviation tax, and instead offer more investment in sustainable fuels and technology to assist them in their goal of net zero flights.

Reform of outdated air traffic management and completion of the Single European Sky initiative

Air traffic management is one of the biggest bug-bears in Europe. The divided skies above the continent make it difficult to manage air traffic as it passes over invisible borders. A strike here, a lack of capacity there, and simple flights can become complicated dog-leg affairs, going miles out of their way to avoid problem airspace.

The A4E airline CEOs called for completion of the Single European Sky, which looks to unify air traffic management across the continent. Such an initiative, if implemented correctly, would see more flexibility to handle things like industrial action and busy airspace readying Europe for the predicted growth in air traffic over the coming decades.

ATC Getty
ATC issues are though to add at least 10% to aviation’s carbon emissions. Photo: Getty Images

Revision of Regulation 261 on air passenger rights

EU 261 set out to protect passengers from last-minute cancellations and unexpected delays which were the fault of the airline. While the legislation was noble in its idea, over the years it has morphed into something which is wholly unacceptable to airlines. Now, airlines are more at risk of paying out than ever, even for incidents that were not their fault.

European airlines have blamed EU 261 for the recent spate of airline bankruptcies in the region. While other factors were certainly at play, there’s no doubt that the regulation is creating a difficult to manage risk for airlines, and is not working in the way it should.

So that’s what European airlines wished for this Christmas. Do you think Adina-Iona Vălean will be able to grant these wishes? Let us know in the comments.