In a detailed submission to the Commission, the airline advocates a policy which actively facilitates competition and consumer choice, addresses critical shortfalls in aviation infrastructure and eases restrictions on market access and investments by non-European airlines.
Etihad Airways said: “We welcome the opportunity to contribute to this important process, given our significant operations into Europe and our investments in a number of European carriers. We believe that this gives us a unique perspective on the current regulatory environment in Europe, as well as a sense of what needs to change in order to ensure a vibrant and competitive industry in the future.
“The Strategic Aviation Package proposed by the European Commission represents a significant ‘window of opportunity’ to strengthen the European air transport sector as an economic and social enabler, and a key driver of growth, through bold, exciting and world-leading initiatives which improve the efficiency of the industry and increase global flight connectivity.”
Etihad Airways proposes nine principles for progress:
1. Put competition and consumers at the forefront of policy development;
2. Think globally, not locally;
3. Ensure that connectivity is at the heart of EU aviation and transport policy;
4. Support innovation in business models, and not artificially constrain them;
5. Promote transparency, efficiency and legal certainty in order to attract external investment;
6. Take a holistic approach to security;
7. Tackle regulatory obstacles and infrastructure inefficiencies, and fully reflect better regulation practices;
8. Encourage structural reforms in the air transport industry, and;
9. Promote open skies.
The airline supports its submission with expert research from three global consultancies, Oxford Economics, Edgeworth Economics and The Risk Advisory Group.
Oxford Economics conducted a major economic impact study which shows that Etihad Airways’ core operations and capital spending in 2015 alone will support over 51,200 European jobs and contribute €3.3 billion to the EU’s GDP. The report also shows that in 2015, Etihad Airways will contribute €1.7 billion to EU GDP through connectivity improvements.
The Risk Advisory Group prepared an analysis of the state support received by European flag carriers prior to and following their privatisation. While Etihad Airways does not challenge the European system, it seeks to demonstrate that this system has created a distorted playing field for new entrants.
Edgeworth Economics conducted an analysis of competition and connectivity in the European air travel industry which showed significant growth in flights and demand between Europe and the key regions served by Etihad Airways, as well as the competition and connectivity impact of Etihad’s equity investments and codeshare partnerships.