New EU rules to pro­tect its air car­ri­ers mooted

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Ju­lia Fioretti

THE EU PRO­POSED new rules yes­ter­day to tackle al­leged un­fair com­pet­i­tive prac­tices from for­eign air­lines as it seeks to en­sure Euro­pean car­ri­ers can fend off fierce com­pe­ti­tion from abroad.

The move comes af­ter re­peated com­plaints from some Euro­pean air­lines, no­tably Air France KLM and Lufthansa, about Gulf car­ri­ers re­ceiv­ing il­le­gal gov­ern­ment sub­si­dies, charges Emi­rates, Qatar Air­ways and Eti­had all deny.

The pro­posal, which needs to be ap­proved by the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment and EU mem­ber states be­fore be­com­ing law, would al­low gov­ern­ments and air­lines to sub­mit com­plaints about dis­crim­i­na­tory prac­tices to the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion.

Should the com­mis­sion find that the prac­tices of a third coun­try or air­line are caus­ing in­jury, or threat of in­jury, to Euro­pean air­lines it will be able to im­pose fi­nan­cial du­ties or sus­pend ser­vices and rights of the over­seas air­line.

“We want to en­sure that Europe re­mains a leader in in­ter­na­tional avi­a­tion, well con­nected to fast-grow­ing mar­kets, with ef­fi­cient Euro­pean skies,” EU Trans­port Com­mis­sioner Vi­o­leta Bulc said.

The pro­posal does not en­vis­age the sus­pen­sion of traf­fic rights, how­ever, and will not in­ter­fere with bi­lat­eral air ser­vices agree­ments be­tween coun­tries. Sev­eral EU mem­ber states had been staunchly op­posed to the new rules on the grounds they could harm bi­lat­eral deals and re­duce con­nec­tiv­ity in Europe. Many also saw it as a pro­tec­tion­ist move to shield un­com­pet­i­tive Euro­pean car­ri­ers, some­thing the com­mis­sion de­nies.

“In avi­a­tion there is never go­ing to be a level play­ing field,” an EU of­fi­cial said. “We’re not here to pro­tect those air­lines if they have not put in place a good busi­ness model.”– Reuters

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