Geneva - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expressed frustration by the lack of progress on key aviation issues during yesterday’s meeting of EU Transport Ministers.

“In April, Europe’s over-reaction to the Icelandic volcano cost the European economy EUR 5 billion. This embarrassment of global proportions was a wake-up call for two key areas. Europe needs to develop a system in line with international practices on dealing with volcanic ash. Second, it must review its compensation regulations for flight cancellations and delays which were applied in a way never intended by the original legislation. It is unacceptable that a month after the volcano went dormant, the EU transport ministers have lost the sense of urgency to address these issues. We are eager to work with the European leadership to develop the solutions needed. But yesterday’s meeting was a frustrating disappointment,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's Director General and CEO.

Moreover, Bisignani criticized the failure of the EU Transport Ministers to address the costs of the mismanagement of the crisis. “The unnecessary closure of airspace cost airlines at least $1.8 billion in lost revenues as well as compensation to passengers. It is critical that the EU follow-up with guidance to its member states on compensating airlines for these losses,” said Bisignani.

IATA is also asking Europe to address distortions to measurements of airline carbon emissions created by airspace closures. “As 2010 is a baseline year for determining allocations under Europe’s emissions trading scheme due to take effect in 2012, accuracy is critical. We continue to oppose regional ETS schemes like that which is being proposed by Europe. But if Europe’s transport ministers are determined to implement it in 2012, they must address this extra-ordinary distortion,” said Bisignani.

Finally, Bisignani reiterated his call for a real European Single European Sky (SES). “We have been waiting decades for Europe to unite its skies. The volcano resulted in tiny promises of incremental progress on some elements of the SES. As the transport ministers are not able to take leadership on this issue, I call on heads of State to end the decades of embarrassment caused by this European failure and set a date for the Transport Ministers to deliver the EUR5 billion ($6.5 billion) savings that a real SES will bring,” said Bisignani.

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Notes for Editors:

  • IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents some 230 airlines comprising 93% of scheduled international air traffic.
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