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Luxembourg, 6 June 2016 -- Europeans for Fair Competition (E4FC) is a coalition of concerned Europeans who have unified across EU member nation boundaries and labor-management lines with the goal of establishing a level playing field with countries that subsidise their airlines in violation of European air service agreements, notably the United Arab Emirates and the State of Qatar.

Indisputable evidence shows that the states of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have injected over €39 billion (between 2004-2014 alone) in government subsidies and benefits into their state-owned airlines. These nations and their subsidised airlines have used these funds to develop services and massive capacity between Europe and Asia via their hubs and are proceeding with a certain number of strategic investments in European airlines to feed their own operations, capture, and shift market access. European airlines and their employees can compete with Middle Eastern airlines directly, however, it is an entirely different matter for them to compete with Middle Eastern governments that heavily subsidise their state-owned airlines.

In December of 2015, the European Commission introduced a comprehensive strategy for the European aviation sector. This strategy, commonly known as “Aviation Strategy EU”, includes “fair competition” language introducing new methods of addressing unfair practices from third countries and third-country operators through adoption of comprehensive EU- level agreements. Such agreements already exist between the EU and the US, Canada, and Brazil, but have yet to be enacted with other third countries. If implemented, such agreements would replace existing individual member state bilateral agreements with the third countries and third-country operators involved.

It is vital that the EU continues to pursue a comprehensive policy that strengthens the accessibility of European hubs to safeguard connectivity and consumer choice long term. We, therefore, call on the EU Transport Council to enact “Aviation Strategy EU” and for this strong and comprehensive fair competition clause to be included. We also call for the inclusion of the oversight and enforcement procedures necessary for any future air services agreement to be concluded between the EU and third countries, notably the State of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, where massive government subsidy distortions are already wreaking havoc upon the European aviation market.

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Note to editors: ECA supports the Europeans for Fair Competition (E4FC) coalition, dedicated to restoring a level playing field for European aviation vis-à-vis state-sponsored Gulf carriers. For more information about our work and views on Fair Competition, visit our dedicate web section & download our publication The Case for Fair Competition in Europe's Aviation