Maltese Minister for Tourism Edward Zammit Lewis, whose country currently holds the presidency of the European Council, will share his perspectives on aviation in the European Union (EU) during the Opening General Session of the 2017 European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE2017), set for 22 May in Geneva, Switzerland.
“There are a number of issues the Maltese presidency will need to tackle, not the least of which is BREXIT, which will obviously impact air transport in Europe,” said European Business Aviation Association CEO Fabio Gamba, whose organization hosts EBACE along with the National Business Aviation Association. “BREXIT negotiations are expected to officially kick off in March, so this will fall under the Maltese presidency.”
One of BREXIT’s immediate impacts could be the unblocking of the current slot regulation in the EU. A review was proposed by the European Commission years ago, but has been blocked by the council since then, due to disagreements between Spain and the U.K. over Gibraltar.
The Maltese presidency could also receive a proposal by the European Commission on the ground handling regulation. A recent attempt to promote competition in ground handling was unfavorably received and subsequently cancelled. The initiative is likely to be revived as an effort sometime in 2017.
“On top of this, the Maltese presidency will probably also need to work on the implementation of the Aviation Strategy,” said Gamba. “The Aviation Strategy, released late 2015, looks at various aspects of air transport in Europe, and puts question marks on some of them in order to address European air transport competitiveness. What do we need to do to be competitive?”
Gamba points to ownership control, air transport agreements and airspace and airport access as some of the issues the council will need to address to boost competitiveness of European air transport.
“People will be looking to Malta to show the way now that the document is over a year old,” said Gamba. “We expect Malta will make some steps towards implementing the Strategy.”