More mergers "inevitable" says AEA
The Association of European Airlines (AEA) said its 36 members increased their cargo traffic by an estimated 8.9 percent year-on-year in 2010.
The figures are based on monthly traffic returns up to November and weekly reports for the last month of the year.
The AEA said Eurocontrol estimates 160,000 European flights were canceled in 2010. Some 100,000 were attributed to the Icelandic volcano eruption in April, and the remaining 60,000 cancellations were due to a combination of industrial action, the December snow storms and a “response to national austerity measures linked with the recession and its aftershocks, particularly in the Eurozone.”
AEA secretary general Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus commented: “While the recession of 2008/9 affected airlines and their markets around the world, the recovery process is very different between one region and another, and particularly in Europe, we are lagging behind the rest of the world. This alone places European airlines at a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis their global rivals, and it is vitally important that the political and operating environment within which we do business does not burden us further.”
Despite a collective “small operating profit” for 2010, Schulte-Strathaus thought "further consolidation appears inevitable under the prevailing circumstances" and acknowledged European aviation must become more efficient to remain competitive internationally.
Referring to the recent snow chaos he added: "The regulators should take a strong grip on infrastructure and ensure that weak links among service providers are liable for the damage incurred to airlines and their customers.”