British Airways’ chairman Lord Marshall today called for the European Commission’s mandate for negotiating open skies between the EU and US to be a “trailblazing priority”.
Giving the lecture at the inauguration of the Brussels Royal Aeronautical Society, on the tenth anniversary of European deregulation, he said much had been achieved in the decade but more needed to be done to achieve truly open skies.
Governments have to change the 59 year old economic regulatory framework with which international air transport is still saddled, he said.
Unlike other business sectors, like telecommunications, banking and the car industry, air transport was just playing at globalisation due to the straitjacket of national sovereignty and archaic ownership rules, he added.
“We are the only business sector where capacity, prices and participants are controlled by the state. Because of it, our system of international alliance based on co-operative agreement remains substantially impotent and fragile. For all their evident worth, the current systems of alliance partnerships are, in reality, poor excuses for genuine global business development.”
“Our global carriers are crying out for consolidation - for cross border merger, acquisition and joint equity venture, in the same way as the intra-Europe airlines. There are simply too many global hubs and too much global capacity in Europe,” he added.
The present crisis in the Middle East could trigger consolidation in Europe where there is already “airline blood on the walls” and in the end there could be only three global airlines in Europe, he predicted.
“Let me assure you that we want to see the development of a truly European air transport industry, with the commission taking on overall responsibility for air service negotiations with other countries; and for competitive issues for all aviation,” he concluded.