IATA DG and CEO Tony Tyler criticized European governments and the European Commission (EC) for instituting aviation policies focused on "restricting and taxing" rather than boosting the competitiveness of the continent's airlines. Europe's carriers are forecast to post an aggregate $600 million net loss this year. 

"It is quite clear that Brussels wants to influence the global air transport agenda. But, are European governments—and Brussels—focused on the right things to be competitive and capture the benefits of air transport’s growth?" Tyler asked in an address to the European Aviation Club in Brussels Tuesday.

He does not see aviation policies in Europe driving growth and prosperity, in contrast to regions such as the Asia/Pacific, where regulations are generally favorable to a growing air transport sector. "The general direction [in Europe] is on restricting and taxing [airlines]," he said. "Put more bluntly, instead of enabling policies, they seem focused on disabling. That comes with a big cost to competitiveness at a time when Europe can ill afford to be disadvantaged by the unintended consequences of its own rule."

Tyler referred to aviation's controversial inclusion this year in the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and the EC's recent proposals on airport capacity (ATW Daily News, Dec. 2, 2011). Some 89 European airports require slot coordination because they don't have enough capacity to meet demand. “For a businessman, unmet demand is a wasted opportunity," Tyler said. "For Brussels, it is seen as an opportunity to regulate and a review of slot regulation was included in the recent airports package."

He was highly critical of the EC's intent to change the use-it-or-lose-it 80:20 rule to 85:15, which he claimed will "incentivizes airlines to fly when demand is not there. Flying empty planes does not improve competitiveness or environmental performance. Surely this must be an unintended consequence."

Photo: IATA DG and CEO Tony Tyler