The Association of European Airlines, representing the major European scheduled airlines, has announced that Rod Eddington, Chief Executive of British Airways, will be the Association`s Chairman in 2003.
Mr Eddington brings to the task the credentials of an airline career pursued on a global scale. Before joining British Airways in May 2000, he had previously held the top job in the Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific, and the Australian carrier Ansett. An Australian himself, he shares the national characteristics of openness, dynamism and - not least - a love of sport.
Mr Eddington`s leadership of AEA will build on the foundations laid during the Chairmanship of Leo van Wijk of KLM, who held the position in 2002. In particular, three items head the Association`s work programme. The first of these is to maintain AEA in a state of readiness in the event of a Middle East conflict Said Mr Eddington: “Our commercial problems in the aftermath of September 11th 2001 were compounded by a host of political complications. Now, on the brink of another possible conflict, we have to be fully prepared for the consequences”.
Mr Eddington will also preside over a fundamental re-examination by AEA of the way the industry operates. “The last two years have highlighted structural weaknesses and distortions in our sector”, he said. “We must take the lead in developing a blueprint for the future, which we can carry forward in dialogue with our regulators. We need a policy for a sustainable air transport industry.”
External affairs was another priority area. It was hoped also that recent political initiatives on European civil aviation relations with the USA would generate momentum towards a Common Transatlantic Aviation Area (CTAA), within which European and US airlines would have equal opportunities to compete, with only the level of regulation necessary to ensure a level playing-field.
Said Mr Eddington: “The CTAA started life as AEA initiatives, and in the future will hopefully bring real benefits to the airlines and to their customers. While we face uncertainty in the immediate future, our long-term focus is as clear as ever: quality airlines delivering a quality product at a consumer-friendly price. Whatever the AEA can do to further that objective, I shall pursue as Chairman”.