The effects of the global financial and economic crisis are being felt by the European civil aviation industry in many ways. Demand for air travel has declined sharply. Airlines, having weathered the storm of the oil price spike ($147 per barrel) of mid-2008, now face rising credit costs. One result has been the collapse of the Lithuanian national carrier flyLAL.
Although it would be expected that low-cost carriers would benefit from the crisis as passengers, including business travellers, seek cheaper options, that has not prevented the collapse of several such budget airlines including Sterling, LTE and Zoom.
Confronted with such pressures, and as a result of the relentless push for liberalisation of the airline industry pursued by many governments and the European Union, airlines are likely to seek to cut costs to the barest minimum. This may well affect air safety standards.
The airlines are also challenged by a continuing concern to reduce the environmental impact of air travel, including carbon emissions and noise pollution, as well as opposition to the expansion of airports and air routes.
As the parliamentary forum of the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) – which groups the aviation authorities of the large majority of Council of Europe member States – the Parliamentary Assembly should take stock of the present situation of the European civil aviation industry, vital to the development and sustainability of the economies of the member States.