Guest Editorial by Fabio Gigante, Italy. Mr. Gigante is an aviation reporter and writes for JP4, VOLARE, Target, Aviazione Civile, la REPUBBLICA (cronaca di Palermo) and Capo Segreteria Provveditorato Interregionale per le Opere Pubbliche.
The Italian airline led by Silvano Cassano has decided to leave the Association of European Airlines. The news comes after Airberlin and carriers of the IAG Group, Iberia, British Airways and Vueling, decided to do the same. Carriers who happen, like Alitalia, to have a significant ownership participation by player of the Gulf: Etihad owns 49 percent of Alitalia, as well as nearly 30 percent of Airberlin, while Qatar Airways holds 10 percent of IAG.
This opens a new front of the confrontation between the players in the Gulf and Europe, which adds to the controversy that already sees the ME3 engaged against the United States, where in recent weeks the big stars and stripes Delta, American and United fielded an unprecedented legal battle to counter the ME3 advance.
And in the past few weeks the leaders of Etihad had met EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc to explain the impact of investments from Abu Dhabi in the EU market, this move against the lobby of the European airlines was predictable. Especially when you consider that among the major influencers of the association includes Lufthansa. “We believe that European companies can succeed in the global market only by accepting the challenges of liberalization – says Silvano Cassano – while developing investment, jobs and new services for global consumers “.
“It is very unfortunate that Alitalia has decided to leave the AEA, after largely sharing the founding principles of our work.” Thus the AEA said of the decision by Alitalia to abandon the lobby. The AEA would also like to clarify its position on the liberalization of the market: “From what has emerged in recent days in the press it seems that we are creating a protective wall around Europe – says spokesperson, Geert Sciot – but none of the campaigns initiated by AEA on liberalization, relationship with third countries or of ownership or control of the company has appealed to protectionism”.
The very fact that the chairman of the association “is the CEO of Turkish Airlines, a non-EU carrier, is proof that we are indeed in reality open minded with a liberal view on the development of the sector in the continent.” AEA “defends the interests of European companies for more than 60 years, expanding its areas of work on the basis of changes in the industry – continues the spokesperson – and without the continuous efforts put in by us in recent years, the liberalization of the market which we see now would not exist at all. ”
Regarding the exit of Alitalia, Airberlin, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling AEA expresses its regret: “All the positions taken by AEA are the result of a work shared by all its members: the basic principle the association is ‘fair competition’, so that companies can compete fairly in European and international levels – continues Sciot. And all the positions of the free market, bilateral agreements, and relations with the Gulf countries, ownership and control dating back to July 2014 and published by AEA have been subscribed by companies who have now left the association”.