The New Year brings with it some signs of recovery for a bruised and battered European network airline sector, accompanied by important changes for its representative body, the Association of European Airlines.
As Europe’s airlines gradually emerge from the deepest, longest and most painful economic downturn in their history, the Association of European Airlines, whose membership numbers 30 of Europe’s most important carriers, faces the future with a new look, a new governance structure and a new focus on the challenges ahead.
The reorientation of the Association was first revealed at the inaugural Aviation Leadership Summit which AEA hosted in Brussels at the end of November. Not only was the new AEA logo unveiled, but a new executive structure that saw Athar Husain Khan appointed as the AEA’s first CEO – superseding the former post of Secretary General – and, from January 2014, the creation of the post of President, replacing the role of Chairman. AEA’s first President is Dr Temel Kotil, CEO of Turkish Airlines. He succeeds AEA’s outgoing Chairman, Bernard Gustin, CEO of Brussels Airlines.
Said Dr Kotil: “I am delighted to have been appointed to head the AEA ‘family’ as its first President. We will continue to grow our membership base and strengthen the voice of our members in Europe which will surely retain its pre-eminence within the global aviation industry”.
Dr Kotil will be assisted by the Presidents’ Committee of AEA, tasked with overseeing the Association’s work programme. It welcomes five new members: Alexandre de Juniac (Chairman & Chief Executive Air France), Kresimir Kucko (President & CEO Croatia Airlines), Camiel Eurlings (President & CEO KLM), and Sebastian Mikosz (President & CEO LOT) and Rickard Gustavson (President & CEO SAS).
AEA also welcomes this year a new member – Meridiana, which is based in Sardinia and is Italy’s second-largest airline.
Outlook 2014 – and beyond
2014 will be a key year in the European political calendar with Parliamentary elections in May and the appointment of a new Commission in the autumn. In AEA’s view, the upcoming changes are a unique opportunity to promote a new comprehensive and coherent aviation policy based on smarter regulation. The changes also offer a momentum to abolish some of the heavy burdens weighing on the industry
To this effect, AEA is developing a Strategic Plan which will underpin the Association’s work programme through the next institutional cycle – a project dubbed Flightpath 2019’. Said Athar Husain Khan: “We are seeing the first green shoots of economic recovery; it is our task to ensure the fertile soil that will enable them to flourish”.
“Flightpath 2019 will give us the tools to – hopefully – establish a solid and constructive relationship with our regulators, both those who will be returning to their posts and those who will be finding their way in new positions of responsibility”, said the AEA CEO. “We hope to experience less turbulence and clearer regulatory skies for our members in this New Year so that they can continue to recover from the economic downturn that is now behind us”.