Air Transport World

European charter airlines moving alongside scheduled carriers.

European charter airlines moving alongside scheduled carriers

Fourteen of Europe's privately owned and independent charter airlines carry between them around 22 million passengers each year, mainly on package holiday flights to beach and ski resorts, using a fleet totalling 200 aircraft and with 13,000 employes. But despite this scale, they consider themselves the "poor cousins' up against the European scheduled and mainly state-owned carriers.

Eight years ago they established their own body to represent them in the councils of European civil aviation. Called ACE (the Association des Compagnies Aeriennes de la Communaute Europeene), and based in Brussels, Belgium, it is making slow, but steady progress towards obtaining for the charter companies what they consider to be their rightful place alongside, and not in the shadow of, the "skeds.'

Aiming at IATA, AEA, ECAC

The secretary-general of ACE is Paul Holubowicz, a U.S. passport holder with an American father and an English mother, who commutes from his home in London to his office in Brussels. Educated in both the U.S. and Britain, he came to ACE by way of the Danish charter airline Sterling, where he was assistant to the then-president, Anders Helgstrand. As chief executive of ACE, he lobbies behind the scenes, fires off headline-making press releases, delivers vitriolic public speeches and treads heavily on corporate toes.

The owners of these bruised extremities are the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Association of European Airlines (AEA) and the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC), as well as Europe's state-owned scheduled carriers, the KLMs, the Lufthansas, the Air Frances, the British Airways, etc., which ACE sees as being able to tell their governments what aviation policy should be, so shutting out the independent sector. Holubowicz perceives some progress. The whole movement towards liberalization within the European Community is encouraging, although the pace is too slow, some states are terminating controls on seat-only sales on charter flights, some scheduled routes are being granted to the charter sector, state airlines are trimming staff numbers, and the European Commission is obliging states and their own airlines to show "transparency' in their financial relations. …

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