Europe seeks air traffic reforms in Gulf carrier subsidy row

The European Commission has outlined an “ambitious package” of proposals aimed at curbing unfair competition for alleged illegal state subsidies to Gulf carriers.

It plans to challenge the way Gulf carriers are funded and look at fairer competition provisions in future traffic rights negotiations.

It is also considering measures to address “unfair practices” outside the union, “as soon as possible in 2016.”

The aim is to boost the international competitiveness of the EU’s aviation industry and ensure high quality services for the passengers.

Once signed, nearly 75 per cent of all passengers flying in and out of the EU, or more than 240 million passengers per year, would be covered by EU-level aviation agreements.

These agreements will strengthen the global positioning of the EU, which is a core priority of president Jean-Claude Juncker.

The EU executive has asked national governments to give it a mandate to start talks on air transport agreements with a number of countries including Turkey, China and Kuwait.

The current agreements, which are often done a bilateral basis between governments of two countries, would set out where and how often foreign airlines could fly into the EU.

Gulf carrier Emirates has attacked the plans saying competition-related issues are already covered under existing agreements.

“We find it interesting that rather than use these tools to address specific grievances, the European Commission is instead looking at a new EU-level policy,” a spokesperson said.

Originally published on Buying Business Travel