It is now 75 years since the aviation regulatory framework was established, and with the evolution of the industry many believe it is time for a serious global review of its relevance today. The “business of freedom” underpins 10% of global GDP and it is too important to be constrained by economic regulation that was designed to meet entirely different conditions.
What trends and opportunities await our industry? What strategic challenges and risks are we set to face in the year ahead? Discussions will cover Europe’s aviation relations with the world, a post Brexit world and its repercussions, North America’s approach to open skies, how open skies have helped Asia’s emerging markets, Africa and SAATM, airport privatisation and infrastructure, air cargo and industry sustainability.
CAPA – Centre for Aviation attempted to address those questions in early Feb-2019 with its Qatar Aviation Aeropolitical and Regulatory Summit, which had more than ten hours of agenda content. Part of this included panel discussions designed to address the latest development in aviation regulation in different parts of the world.
Europe’s aviation relations with the world: towards multilateralism
The EU has played a vital leadership role in aviation in Europe and the North Atlantic and, increasingly, globally. In recent years the face of the airline industry has changed rapidly, with new entrants, new airline types and new aircraft all contributing to a very different environment compared with 20 years ago. The panel will review the extent and relevance of these developments and discuss where the industry – and its regulation – might be heading.
Where to? The North America’s approach to Open Skies
As the originator of the swathe of open skies agreements in the 1990s and the early part of the 21st century, the US is a vital part of the modern liberal bilateral system. Now Brexit prompts a vital review of the North Atlantic multilateral agreement, while the US is seemingly wavering in its commitment to the principles of a li laissez-faire international marketplace. Meanwhile Canada remains committed to its (dark) Blue Skies protectionist policy. In the wake of the US Big 3’s recent onslaught on the Gulf carriers, there is still a lack of clarity over the US position on liberal market access, a question made more poignant by the Trump administration’s attacks on free trade generally. However, some comfort can be drawn from Washington’s apparent reluctance to intervene in a protective way.
The outlook for the ASEAN air travel market
As the fastest growing international market in the world, southeast Asia has spawned ground-breaking international LCCs, cross border JV models and even LCC alliances. An essentially liberal bilateral approach by governments in the region has permitted this market driven proliferation, partially aided by the application of ASEAN open skies principles. This has also given the opportunity for discussions at multilateral level with the EU and the potential for a significant dialogue, with common goals. There is however residual resistance to full liberalisation as the framers of the ASEAN multilateral proposed.
Post-Brexit: all change – or no change?
Britain’s decision to exit the EU came as a surprise to most, including those who supported it. As reality strikes, there remain many complex bilateral and multilateral arrangements to unravel and to remake. How the scenario unfolds will depend on the renewed intentions of all those involved. The aviation world will be watching, as ancient norms are reviewed in the light of the 21st century’s evolving global marketplace.