Finnair and Norwegian became the latest members of Europe’s new Airlines for Europe (A4E) association on Thursday, joining Air France KLM, easyJet, International Airlines Group, Lufthansa Group, and Ryanair.
Based in Brussels, A4E was launched in January by founding members Air France KLM, easyJet, International Airlines Group, Lufthansa Group and Ryanair, with Norwegian and Finnair are the latest additions to the group and the first Nordic airlines to join the alliance.
“Norwegian has always believed in healthy competition among airlines to create more choice and lower fares for passengers,” said Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos. “But we also firmly believe in an industry where low-cost and network carriers can unite to tackle the many issues we all face together.”
“Finnair looks forward working with A4E to enhance the dialogue with the key European stakeholders. We welcome the initiative to gather European airlines under the same roof regardless of their business model,”said Pekka Vauramo, Finnair CEO.
“Aviation is a significant contributor to the European economic growth and employment. Therefore it is vital that we participate in discussions on issues on common interest concerning our industry.”–Pekka Vauramo, Finnair CEO.
Combined, member airlines carry more than 500 million passengers, account for more than half of the continent’s passenger journeys, operate more than 2,300 airplanes, and generate EUR 93 billion in turnover each year.
Speaking to me Tuesday in Copenhagen, Michael O’Leary said he believes that the group could transform the relationships between Europe’s flagship and low-cost leaders opening up new opportunities for feeder partnerships between them.
However, initially, the alliance has focused on collectively tackling issues of airline policy with the European Commission. The group has asked that the EC address large scale airport monopolies and their charges, taxation, and “inefficiencies” within the aviation supply chain.
Shortly after founding the association, the group, represented by Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary as spokesperson, took the association’s agenda to Brussels where he met with MEPs, EU officials and economists and the European Parliament.
One of the top items on the agenda was a call for action to address travel disruptions caused by ATC strikes. The group also lobbied for the EC to lower airport charges and eliminate aviation taxes the group believes stifle industry growth.
“The reality is that in the last ten years, airport charges rose by 90 per cent at the 10 largest European airports while airline fares dropped 20 per cent over the same period,” O’Leary said. “While airlines have reduced their fares, EU passengers continue to be fleeced by excessive airport charges. It’s in consumers’ interest to benefit from lower EU airport costs and A4E will continue to campaign for the effective regulation of monopoly airports on behalf of European passengers.”
MEP Deirdre Clune, Irish member of the European Parliament`s Committee on Transport and Tourism, lent her support by saying: “A competitive and efficient aviation industry in Europe will play a crucial role in driving economic growth, jobs and trade. We desperately need reform in the industry to ensure it remains competitive in an increasingly globalised market. I hope that the Commissions Aviation Strategy will bring us closer to introducing that reform.”
More Members Ahead
“Airlines for Europe is open for business and ready to represent the interests of all European airlines,” said Thomas Reynaert, A4E’s Managing Director. “We will grow our member base over the next months, uniting more European airlines to take forward changes that will increase our competitiveness and result in lower fares and more choice for passengers. I am thrilled to welcome Norwegian and Finnair to A4E.”