ECAC activities in the economic field aim at promoting an economically efficient, sustainable and competitive European air transport sector, and have four main features:
- To support the understanding on economic issues of common interest to the aviation community within ECAC, through discussions held in the Economic Working Group and in the Network of Chief Economists, both established in 2016.
- The preparation for ICAO events in the economic field to enable ECAC Member States to present coordinated and effective contributions and influence global outcomes. This coordination is undertaken in cooperation with the European Commission, in a European coordination group for Economic matters. This group actively prepares for the meetings of the ICAO Air Transport Regulation Panel (ATRP) and its working group as well as for the Economic Commission of the ICAO Assembly and the ICAO Assembly itself.
- The organisation of an annual ECAC Forum. The Forum was established in 2008 to give the Directors General of Civil Aviation of ECAC's Member States the opportunity for an open discussion of strategic issues with potentially far-reaching national and international significance. Given the number of calls on the time of Directors General, the one-day Forums are organised back-to-back with their December meeting in the ECAC premises in Paris.
- The organisation of ECAC/EU Dialogues with the air transport industry on topics of common interest. The ECAC/EU Dialogue is held every three years.
During the Forum, Directors General are joined by senior representatives from the European Commission, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), ICAO and EUROCONTROL, and the debates are very much facilitated and enhanced by input from selected guest speakers mainly from the industry, as well as academics.
The Forum has focused on economic issues such as the impact of intermodality on aviation, air cargo, the economics of airports, connectivity and economic development, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) and sustaining aviation growth. The last edition, in December 2020, focused on the COVID-19 crisis - from survival to recovery.
ECAC/EU Dialogues with the air transport industry
ECAC and the European Commission work in close cooperation on all aspects of European air transport. In 1995, they agreed that it would be worthwhile to periodically bring together leaders of the air transport industry – representing scheduled, non-scheduled and regional airlines as well as airport management – with the Directors General of ECAC's Member States. The objective was to provide a forum that would facilitate open and thought-provoking discussions between the regulators and senior aviation industry representatives on a wide range of air transport issues, and to assess future implications and challenges.
Since 1995, eleven ECAC/EU Dialogues have taken place across Europe. Typically organised every two or three years, they have covered a wide range of topics, including airport capacity, economic issues, aviation and the environment, air passenger rights, improving the passenger experience and whether this should be achieved through competition or regulation, and European air transport competitiveness in a global environment.
The Dialogues attract approximately 150 delegates who are principally Directors General of Civil Aviation and their senior colleagues, and senior representatives of European airlines, airport operators, air navigation service providers, manufacturers, academics and European industry organisations. They continue to offer a welcome forum for the air transport industry and thanks to the seniority of the speakers contributing to each event, provide a stimulating and informative debate.
The most recent edition was held virtually on 4 November 2020 on the theme "Restart, Reconnect, Recover - Rebuilding Aviation in a Changed World". The Dialogue was opened by ECAC President Ingrid Cherfils and featured a welcome address by Parliamentary State Secretary of the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure Steffen Bilger, and a keynote speech by Henrik Hololei, Director-General for Mobility and Transport in the European Commission. Across four panel debate sessions, the panellists and moderators, representing a broad range of high-level aviation stakeholders, explored the economic and financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis on aviation, the public's perception of air travel, the consequences for environmental initiatives and the impact of the crisis on implementation of the Single European Sky.