The COVID-19 pandemic has been a calamity for aviation. It has reversed decades of progress towards a more liberal aviation market and jeopardized improvements in industry efficiency that, along with increased competition, reduced costs and prices and generated significant wider economic and social gains.
In the last two years, we have witnessed the introduction of government policies that:
- Suspended state aid rules at the expense of a level competitive playing field;
- Restricted international air travel and devastated finances throughout the industry, restricting the capacity to make environmental and other investments;
- Set charges at regulated infrastructure providers (airports and ANSPs) that were insufficient to cover costs;
- Added new procedural health checks as a responsibility of the aviation industry.
In the wake of such actions, what are the appropriate post-Covid actions and policy frameworks to meet the challenges of the evolving aviation landscape? Our 2022 conference will focus on three crucial areas of interest:
If aviation was an unrestricted private-market industry, a crisis on the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic would provoke substantial industry consolidation and rationalisation. However, in reality, significant public ownership, international ownership restrictions and political goals often override commercial behaviour. Could the pandemic prompt a review of outdated ownership policies and help to sustain a recovery in aviation?
Infrastructure price regulation (for airports & ATC organizations) faces exceptional new challenges. In a financially weakened environment how, if at all, does the industry treat losses due to COVID-19?
State aid and slot rule suspensions have distorted airline competition in an environment already weakened by the financial losses due to COVID. What policy changes are needed to restore competitive balance?
On the principle of using a crisis to act on well-known but long-neglected problems, EAC 2022 aims to discuss the necessary policy debates surrounding ownership, regulation and industry structure in the post-Covid era, with the goal of developing a practical and deliverable path to the restoration of a healthy and stable air transport industry.