5 European airlines team up to fight higher airport taxes
IN AN unprecedented step, Europe's five largest airline groups, including budget carriers EasyJet and Ryanair, on 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, Lufthansa, Air France-KLM and International Airline Group, parent company of both British Airways and Iberia.
It will "represent the interests of its members when dealing with the EU institutions, international organisations and governments on European aviation issues", it said at the launch in Amsterdam.
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" and for the removal of "unreasonable taxes".
Citing a recent study, Air France-KLM chief Alexandre de Juniac revealed that airport charges at the largest 21 European airports had soared by 80 per cent since 2005, even as the average price of airline tickets has fallen by about 20 per cent.
The airline bosses urged the "EU to take action lowering the cost of the EU's airports by ensuring that monopoly airports are effectively regulated".
The association is also taking aim at unions within the air traffic control sector, with Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary saying "we want to eliminate air traffic control strikes that affect thousands of passengers".