Air Transport World

Room for more in the crowded skies? (European Community air traffic control)

LONDON--Airlines based in Europe are cautiously in favor of the Third Package of liberalization measures proposed by the European Community Commission to begin next Jan. 1. But they continue to express considerable doubt as to whether the infractructure--airways and airports--can cope with the additional traffic that such measures will produce.

The Third Package is the final step before the implementation of the internal market between the EC's 12 member states. Its aim is the wholesale freeing the European air transport, with no more capacity control, complete freedom of market access and implementation of the double-disapproval rule for fares. The EC intends to apply the same rules indiscriminately to all forms of air-carrier operations--scheduled or charter, passenger and freight.

Then attitude of the European airlines was summed up by Bernard Attali, president of the Air France group, who is the new chairman of the IATA executive committee and recently retired president of the Association of European Airlines (AEA). He said: "It is of paramount importance to deal with existing problems of European infrastructure and harmonization of competition conditions before worrying about how to multiply new entrants on a already-saturated network.

"The ECC proposals do not take into account any of the current congestion problems, whether concerning airports, air-traffic control or the need for airlines to develop hub-and-spoke systems in order to compete on a worldwide basis.

"Governments should be allowed to have a say in whether new entrants should be permitted into the market and in the definition of relevant priorities, such as the allocation of slots.

"Generally, it is not advisable to attribute too great a power to the Commission to intervene anywhere and everywhere, using the threat of fines. …

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