Five European airlines launch new alliance
In an unprecedented step, Europe's five largest airline groups including budget carriers EasyJet and Ryanair Wednesday launched a new alliance to combat rising airport charges amid a fierce battle with Gulf rivals.
The new association dubbed Airlines for Europe (A4E) brings together the budget airlines with giants Lufthansa, Air France-KLM and the International Airline Group, parent company of both British Airways and Iberia.
The new alliance will "represent the interests of its members when dealing with the EU institutions, international organisations and national governments on European aviation issues," it said in a statement at the launch at Amsterdam's Schipol airport.
In their first act, the five managing directors of the member airlines called for swift steps to stop European travellers being "fleeced by excessive airport charges" for for the removal of "unreasonable taxes."
They demanded "a significant reduction" in the charges which are "paid by hundreds of millions of EU travellers."
Citing a recent study, the association revealed that airport charges at the largest 21 European airports had soared by 21 percent since 2005 even as the average price of airline tickets has fallen by about 20 percent.
"At the 10 largest airports the increase was even greater, close to 90 percent," they said in a statement.
"These increases mean that passengers have had to pay an extra 5.4 billion euros ($6.11 billion) in airport charges over the last 10 years."
They urged the "EU to take action lowering the cost of the EU's airports by ensuring that monopoly airports are effectively regulated."
The launch of the new association comes on the eve of an EU Aviation Summit, being hosted by the Netherlands as part of its six-month presidency of the European Union.
It also follows European allegations that their Gulf rivals enjoy a competitive edge due to what they say is unfair financing from their energy-rich, deep-pocketed state owners.
© 2016 AFP