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The winners in the air transport industry are the players that manage change effectively

Globalisation and liberalisation have catapulted airlines, airports, authorities and now Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) into a more dynamic, yet uncertain future. Air transport is moving from national monopolies and state ownership towards increased international liberalisation, commercialisation and cross border integration.

Legacy Carriers and Full Service Airlines face cut throat competition from Low Cost Carriers. The old cost structures in airline business models are no longer sustainable, while EU legislation makes it increasingly difficult for national governments to subsidise their flag carriers. In response airlines seek to merge or join a global alliance to survive and stay competitive. 

Airports are faced with the demand for more capacity, while they have to deal with a substantial increase in security costs and the complexities of managing ever increasing volumes of passengers and air traffic safely and efficiently.

They are at the same time under pressure to reduce handling charges and have significantly changed their business models by focussing on non-aviation revenue streams.

Competition between airports for passengers and routes will intensify and will be amplified by the privatisation of airports, which might accelerate the consolidation of airport ownership across borders. European ANSPs are under pressure to reduce charges and to integrate and harmonise national airspaces and air navigation services within the Single European Sky initiative. This has spawned a number of Functional Airspace Block initiatives which look into the feasibility of creating cross border airspaces and even joint air navigation service provision. The changing government and regulatory context means that some air navigation services like tower services and air traffic controller training, to name just two, might also become subject to competition.

The growth in air transport benefit both the industry and the general public, but also challenge the industry to increase capacity in the face of a stronger focus on the environmental sustainability of air transport. This will force the industry to develop new solutions to reduce emissions and noise. These developments will require authorities, airlines, airports, ANSP’s, and their staff to work even more close together in an increasingly competitive environment.

All players will have to enhance their skills and develop new competences to deal effectively and successfully with this new reality and the winners will be those that manage change proactively.

No amount of skill in managing the operation (and the air industry has built up an enormous depth of experience in managing operations to high levels of safety and security) will save the players that do not manage change effectively.

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