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Europe's airlines in 'better deal' call

By Donal O'Donovan

Europe's biggest airlines have set aside their usual fierce rivalries to lobby for an easier ride from European policy makers.

Ryanair's Michael O'Leary and IAG boss Willie Walsh joined the heads of Air France KLM-Group, Deutsche Lufthansa and easyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall seeking European Union measures to boost efficiency, better regulate airports, lower taxes and prevent air traffic control strikes.

"As the new transport commissioner prepares a new aviation strategy for Europe she must drive more competition, encourage more efficiency and help reduce costs in other parts of our industry - such as monopoly airports and air traffic control providers - and reduce the tax burden on passengers," the airline chief executives said in a joint statement.

European Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc is due to publish a suite of aviation measures in the autumn.

"This is the first time we all join together," Willie Walsh said at a press briefing to launch the lobbying initiative. "We need the industry to come together and push harder," he said.

"We believe this is overdue," Lufthansa's Carsten Spohr added.

European operators have watched the rise of Gulf carriers such as Emirates and Etihad in the past decade, which are seen to have far more supportive home governments - which double as shareholders - than European airlines.

Willie Walsh said IAG has no issue with the Gulf-based airlines, but lambasted the UK government over aviation tax and airport capacity.

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