The crisis gripping the airline industry is without precedent in the history of commercial aviation, a group of top airline industry associations said in a signatory letter on behalf of the travel industry to European Commission Commissioner Siim Kallas. Kallas is EU president José Manuel Barroso’s nominee to be the next European Commissioner for Transport. Led by the Business Travel Coalition (BTC), the groups urged the EU to organize an airline industry Stakeholder Summit in early 2010. Signatories represent consumers, corporate travel departments, airlines, labor and travel management companies.
“It is rare that the travel and aviation industry presents such a united front,” the BTC letter said.. Signatories included the International Airline Passengers Association, Association of European Airlines, European Transport Workers’ Federation, Institute of Travel & Meetings, Belgium Association of Travel Management, Advantage Focus Partnership (UK), Finnish Business Travel Association, International Brotherhood of Teamsters Airline Division, Travel Management Alliance and the BTC.
“We are deeply concerned about this perilous financial state of affairs and the loss of jobs and connectivity of mid-size communities to important European and global business centers,” the letter said. “All opportunities to ease current and proposed regulatory burdens and to increase efficiency for European airlines must be reviewed with the greatest sense of urgency. A socially and ecologically sustainable civil aviation industry should be an important goal for Europe.”
Given the recent decision by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to form a Federal Advisory Committee on the future of aviation, the group said it believed stakeholders in North America and Europe would benefit if Washington and Brussels conducted parallel problem-solving processes.
“What’s more, a corresponding process would provide the opportunity for a harmonized approach to regulatory regimes, the exchange of best practices with respect to including all stakeholders’ interests in smart air transportation policy development and regulatory oversight,” stated BTC Chairman Kevin Mitchell.