The Association of European Airlines (AEA) has reported its highest rate of growth since 2011, with nearly 307 million passengers travelling on scheduled services with its member carriers in 2015.
The association says this is an increase of 12.6 million compared with 2014, representing a growth rate of 4.3 per cent.
The association also reported that on services within Europe and on domestic services, its member airlines carried an additional 10.1 million passengers, an increase of 4.5 per cent, but cargo services did not perform so well, with “zero to negative growth expected for full year 2015”.
The AEA represents 22 European carriers including Air France, Air Malta, Brussels Airlines, Finnair, KLM, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss, SAS, TAP Portugal and Turkish Airlines.
International Airlines Group carriers British Airways and Iberia were members of the AEA up until April 2015, when they left to join the European Low Fares Airline Association (ELFAA), along with Air Berlin and Alitalia (see news April 2015).
BA and Iberia are understood to have left AEA over the association's views on the threat from Gulf carriers Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, and at the time IAG’s CEO Willie Walsh said:
"We look forward to working with ELFAA and its member airlines on a full range of policy and regulatory issues including the pursuit of further aviation liberalisation."
Commenting on the AEA results, CEO Athar Husain Khan said:
“AEA member airlines have been able to achieve these positive results by serious restructuring and the introduction of new commercial strategies.
“Unfortunately, the current regulatory framework in Europe did not help them. European airlines are still in need of a European policy that allows them to achieve sustainable growth in the future.”