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ACI Europe chief outlines current challenges in Europe

Airports Council International (ACI) Europe President Augustin de Romanet spoke on a wide range of issues plaguing Europe, including aviation security, during the organization’s General Assembly 2017.

De Romanet took note of the progress achieved on security especially after the tragic terrorist attacks at Brussels airport and Istanbul-Atatürk last year. He also lauded the EU’s sound and effective approach, focused on smarter and non-visible measures.

De Romanet also lobbied for better international collaboration especially with the laptop ban expansion looming over their heads.

“I am relieved that the ban has not been extended for now – not least because of its potential safety impact. But we all need to work together on this and look for alternative measures that will be 100% safe, more effective from a security point of view and also less disruptive operationally. ACI Europe has put detailed alternative proposals on the table – and I am glad to see that IATA seems to have endorsed them”, de Romanet said.

The ACI Europe President emphasized how security and the new geopolitical environment that mold it only serves to highlight the need for strong European leadership – as well as the central importance of the EU for aviation.

“Populism these days comes with a strong anti-EU sentiment, but using the EU as scapegoat is both unjustified and dangerous. For aviation, this means putting at risk the Single Aviation Market – the backbone upon which we provide the air connectivity that is indispensable for economic growth, cohesion and jobs. This is exactly why Brexit is so unfortunate. By threatening the integrity of our Single Aviation Market, it affects all of us”, the ACI Europe boss said.

He continued: “The results of the UK elections have only increased our concerns over the prolonged uncertainty that comes with Brexit – and the possibility of a cliff edge scenario which would see the UK exiting the EU without an alternative and bespoke trade agreement.  Aviation has been recognised as one of the sectors most at risk with Brexit – the potential disruption for air travel is both real and substantial. With the advanced nature of the way airlines plan their seasonal schedules, air transport needs to be at the forefront of the negotiations.”

De Romanet also called for more effective Open Skies, especially with the unacceptable travel delays that Norwegian had to face in securing permission to fly to the US. He also reiterated the full support of Europe’s airports for the European Commission’ ambitious Aviation Strategy.

“We also need Open skies beyond the US and Canada. There is no reason not to move forward. Outbound travel from Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East is set to grow exponentially in the coming decades. Europe can simply not afford to miss this next opportunity for growth.”

And finally, de Romanet stressed the need for airport regulation to reflect the EU’s own focus on economic growth and competition: “This is an opportunity to move airport regulation from being airport-centric to consumer-centric, and to make it market-driven – reflective of airport competition. Crucially, we can at last align it with the EU’s wider objectives for growth and investment. Doing this requires moving towards lighter and more proportionate forms of regulation.”

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