EU must ensure Airline Safety

Speaking in a debate on terrorism in the European Parliament recently, the Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Atkins MEP for the North West and Conservative Spokesman on Transport in the European Parliament, expressed his concern about the implications for the aviation industry and safety for the travelling public. (Click here to see speech.)

"We have to assuage the understandable fears of air passengers by improving security at airports and on aircraft as a matter of urgency and consistency", he declared. "Different countries within the EU operate different standards and people need to be sure that they are safe and that the crews are secure. We also need to address the threat of hostile incursion into our civil airspace and the congestion that could result from increased military activity", he continued.

Sir Robert, former Minister for Aeropace, then referred to the threat to the continued financial viability of European airlines, not least BA, British Midland and Virgin Atlantic. "In light of the effective collapse of Swissair and the effects upon their subsidiary, Sabena (Belgian Airlines), I have pressed both Commissioner Monti (Competition) and de Palacio (Transport) to examine the Belgian Government's subsidy to Sabena since clearly it is State Aid which is anti-competitive and illegal under EU laws", he commented."There must be no bailing out of sickly airlines at the expense of more viable operators, many of which are British".

"Whilst not believing in subsidising private sector companies with British taxpayers' money, there are other ways to help. The Government could abolish Air Passenger Duty (APD) or defray the huge extra costs of tighter security."

The North West MEP concluded by demanding urgent decisions from Transport Ministers and the Commission. "I shall pursue this at the next Transport Committee meeting. Terrorism must not be allowed to win!"

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