Major British airlines urge EU to protect passenger interests

The chiefs of three major British airlines have come together as a group to oppose European Union (EU) passenger taxes and policies that are hiking up the costs for customers, reports said.

Carolyn McCall, Michael O’Leary and Willie Walsh, the chief executives of easyJet, Ryanair and British Airways owner International Airline Group respectively, have joined forces with the heads of Lufthansa Group and Air France KLM and agreed to lobby EU officials for change of policy and a simpler regulatory structure.

The airlines chiefs demanded the European Union provide a more efficient and competitive market to protect passenger interests, and guarantee jobs and business growth.

‘Europe’s airlines form the most competitive sector in aviation, with a diverse mix of carriers offering competition and choice to consumers,’ the airlines’ chiefs said in a joint statement.

‘This is the first time we have set aside our competitive battles to highlight the importance of a new European Aviation Strategy. As the new Transport Commissioner prepares a new Aviation Strategy for Europe she must drive more competition, encourage more efficiency and help reduce costs in other parts of our industry (such as monopoly airports and Air Traffic Control providers) and reduce the tax burden on passengers,’ they added.

Presently the European Union is ‘in effect taxing an enabler of economic activity’, IAG chief Walsh said. He added that that passenger taxes are counter-productive and urged for the cancellation of the ‘unreasonable’ charges.

The airlines chiefs particularly called for affirmative action over disruptive European airstrikes that cost the industry millions every year. According to Ryanair chief O’Leary, strike days have resulted in over 3,000 cancelled flights this year alone.

The top executives also called for reforms to lower the cost of European airport charges that would allow them to reduce fares for customers. The cost of European airports is among the highest in the world and a new strategy must achieve ‘real progress soon,’ the executives said.