The European Commission adopted a new Aviation Strategy for Europe on 7th December outlining the steps to be taken to maintain and improve competitiveness and sustainability the EU aviation sector. IATA, the trade association representing and serving the airline industry world-wide, noted that the Aviation Strategy is "overdue recognition of an industry that is critical to the continent's success".
The Strategy places a strong emphasis on the success of European aviation depending on markets outside of Europe, with a focus on "tapping into growth by improving services and access to growing markets" to generate economic opportunities. Tackling limits to growth, on the ground and in the air, is also high on the Commission agenda, with ACI Europe responding that "decisive action on these issues rests with Member States" . The full implementation of the Single European Sky and the swift adoption of SES2+ is urged to unleash the potential to reduce costs stemming from inefficiencies such as delay and longer routes.
To maintain high EU safety and security standards, the Commission proposes amendment to the regulatory framework (a revised EASA Basic Regulation) in an effort to adapt to new challenges such as drones and cyber-security, digital technologies and the continued threat of terrorism to civil aviation. Related to this is the desire to harness innovation and to use EASA's role in certification to accelerate the transition from innovation to market. When it comes to drones (RPAS) the aim is to harness the tremendous opportunities for new services and applications, whilst ensuring safe interaction with existing airspace users.
Reinforcing the social agenda and creating high quality jobs in aviation is also central to the strategy. This is particularly important in light of the pressure on airlines to cut operational costs and the emergence of new business and employment models which potentially have an impact on working conditions and labour laws. With "competitiveness and environmental sustainability going hand in hand" the preservation and enhancement of high environmental standards are also a key theme.
We now await further reaction from the sector, and anticipate the work of the new Dutch presidency in implementing the strategy under the Juncker cabinet.