The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called for better policy focus on fortifying Europe’s competitiveness in the aviation sector under the forthcoming presidency of Bulgaria of the European Union (EU).
The IATA said that it is imperative to carefully plan the capacity that is needed to accommodate the fast-rising demand for world connectivity, improvements in the environment and infrastructure cost regulation.
IATA’s projection indicates a 6% expansion of demand for air travel in Europe in 2018. While that is considered to be robust growth, European carriers are still confronted by daunting challenges as evidenced by the recent bankruptcies that were suffered by European airlines.
And compared to carriers in North America that are expected to earn $16.67 per passenger this year, there is an obvious gap in profitability as European airlines are expected to turn in a profit of just $9.99 per passenger.
“Operating an airline in Europe is challenging. There are high costs and regulatory burdens. Infrastructure capacity is often not sufficient and the charges for using airports have doubled Europe-wide in the last decade.
“The Bulgarian government has put competitiveness and connectivity at the heart of the agenda for its Presidency of the EU. This will drive greater competitiveness and prosperity for European economies, but only if individual EU member states follow-through with the adoption of policies that promote aviation connectivity,” said Rafael Schvartzman, IATA’s Regional Vice President Europe at IATA’s Aviation Day Bulgaria, in Sofia.
The said concerns were acknowledged by the Deputy Minister for Transport, Information Technology and Communications for Bulgaria, Velik Zancev.
“We believe that Europe’s air transport should focus on mobilizing resources and efforts to modernize infrastructure, deploy new technologies and improve connectivity,” said Zancev, who also took note of the numerous economic benefits of coordination between the airline community, aviation stakeholders, and the regulatory authorities.
“The fruitful cooperation of national stakeholders such as the Ministry of Transport Information Technology and Communications, the Civil Aviation Authority, and BULATSA, with IATA ensures that the Bulgarian aviation sector delivers its full potential.
“The economic contribution of aviation supports further spheres of the economy: tourism, cargo operations and greater exchange on political, cultural and social levels. Aviation also plays its part in sustainability to ensure environmental and noise impacts are addressed,” Zancev added.
Bulgaria holds an important position, being the gateway from Europe to Turkey, and beyond to Asia. It also boasts of an expanding market in its own right, with passenger numbers expected to double over the next two decades. This could prove to be a considerable challenge for the country’s air traffic management, and Bulgaria’s air navigation service provider, BULATSA.
In response, BULATSA and IATA have pledged to collaborate and with all aviation stakeholders to implement a National Airspace Strategy in support of the Single European Sky (SES) initiative.
“Building a National Airspace Strategy is the central element for Bulgaria to ensure the country can cope with the future growth and traffic increase we expect in the coming decades. This commitment from Bulgaria is a strong message to the international community that Bulgaria is focused on maintaining the strategic importance of its airspace,” said Zancev.
“BULATSA’s cooperation with IATA to ensure airlines have the appropriate influence on the strategy will ensure that Bulgaria’s airspace is fit for the future. This will significantly benefit Bulgaria’s citizens and the economy,” stated Schvartzman.