With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for air transport passengers.
Do you enjoy travelling by plane, visiting new destinations, friends and family, even for short periods? Whether you like city trips in Europe or going to the other side of the globe, travelling by air has become much more affordable and accessible over the last 25 years, largely owing to EU action in the field of civil aviation.
Air travel used to be controlled largely by national authorities and dominated by monopolistic national carriers. The creation of the internal market for aviation in the EU has, however, profoundly changed the way aviation operates. By removing many national rules and replacing them with European ones, the liberalisation of aviation has increased competition among airlines. This has resulted in new services and new players, in particular low-cost airlines, new connections, lower fares and wider access to air transport. The European Union has also reinforced common rules on safety and security, passenger rights (e.g. assistance and compensation for denied boarding, cancellations or delays) and promoted greater access to third countries via its external aviation policy.
Previously reserved for a minority of privileged people or business travellers, aviation has witnessed a surge in the number of passengers and destinations, giving a far greater choice to consumers who have access to more flights, more routes and more airports. The number of daily flights has risen from fewer than 10 000 in 1992 to around 23 000 in 2016 and the number of routes from fewer than 2700 in 1992 to around 7 400 now. It is easier and cheaper than ever to travel by air.
- EPRS publication on Airports in the EU: Challenges ahead, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/document.html?reference=EPRS_IDA(2016)583820
- EPRS publication on EU external aviation policy, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/document.html?reference=EPRS_BRI(2016)582021
- European Commission’s Directorate General for Mobility and Transport, https://ec.europa.eu/transport/modes/air/aviation-strategy_en
- European Commission’s Directorate General for Mobility and Transport, https://ec.europa.eu/transport/modes/air/25years-eu-aviation_en