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Airline bosses slam European governments on air networks

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Jun 03, 2008

ISTANBUL - Airline bosses Tuesday slammed European governments for their failure to integrate air traffic control networks as a means of cutting aircraft fuel consumption and called on France to address the issue during its upcoming presidency of the European Union.

Speaking at the International Air Transport Association's annual meeting in Istanbul, British Airways PLC (BAIRY) Chief Executive Willie Walsh berated the lack of progress in establishing a so-called Single European Sky over the past few decades. "Governments have got to be embarrassed into addressing the issue. This is a scandal and it's got to be tackled," Walsh said.

Separately, Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LHA.XE) Chief Executive Wolfgang Mayrhuber said the combination of air traffic networks is purely an administrative rather than a technical issue. "It's less complex than building a new airplane," he said.

It's estimated that aircraft could burn 10-15% less fuel and save a total of $ 2 billion a year by flying on optimal more direct flights paths controlled by a single European aircraft traffic control body. Currently there are over 30 different air traffic control networks across Europe but governments have been reluctant to merge them to protect national interests and safeguard jobs.

"We don't need technology, we need vision and leadership," Iata Director General Giovanni Bisignani said. Trade association Iata is pressing the French government to push forward the issue when France takes over the rotating European Union presidency in the second half of 2008, he added.

Airlines around the world are looking at all measures to reduce their operating costs owing to the rapid rise in jet fuel prices.

Airline bosses slam European governments on air networks

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