Competitive edge or unfair competition? The blurry line between the two has motivated ECA’s decision to start a new ambitious Task Force which aims at identifying areas of unfair competition affecting European airlines and their pilots. The Task Force will start its work in December and prepare proposals on how the effects of unfair competition can be mitigated, how fair competition in aviation can be (re-)established and how decent working conditions for pilot professionals in Europe can be ensured.
The global aviation market is growing unevenly. While some regions are natural points of departure and destination, others have developed a strong strategy to build new ‘hubs’. The problem is that if airlines are subsidised or not subject to equivalent charges and regulations (safety, social and taxation) they distort the market and do not compete on a level playing field with the other airlines.
The decision to set up a Task Force came at a moment marked by significant developments. Last month, at the Dubai Air Show, aircraft orders by state-owned airlines Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, and Flydubai for a total of $162.6 billion raised concerns with their competitors that few airlines will be able to compete as aggressively on the global marketplace. European carriers for example are lacking cash flow and operate in a highly taxed and regulated environment.
At the same time within Europe more and more carriers try to exploit loopholes in social legislation to gain a competitive edge. Social dumping, complex contractual arrangements and “bogus” self-employment are just some examples.
The new ECA Task Force will take a closer look at these developments, collect and analyse evidence and information regarding unfair competition and identify its multiple facets. The group will also prepare an action plan for a fair competition campaign to support decent work for European pilots, with healthy, sustainable employers.