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Vale AEA

Old 17th Jun 2015, 21:37
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Vale AEA

Today I am sad. The organisation that I worked for until my retirement last year has fallen off a cliff, a cliff of its own making.

The Association of European Airlines was founded in 1954 and I was there, on the Avenue Louise in Brussels, from 1980 to 2014 so more than half its lifetime. When I joined we had 19 members, at our peak we reached 37. As of yesterday it was 25, but thats history anyway. Today the bosses of AF/KL and the Lufthansa Group, who account for numerous AEA members, along with BA/Iberia who jumped ship a couple of months ago, announced that jointly with Ryanair and EasyJet they would be forming another body to represent the European industry in Brussels and worldwide.

Fair dos to them. In the 1990s, when the policy was being developed that has shaped the way the European airline industry is today, AEA was pre-eminent. We had the best brains and expertise, and a management that could bring into line the very different agendas of BA, KL, AF, LH and the smaller ones. The policy-makers beat a path to our door.

From 2002-2012 AEAs reputation was trashed, along with its finances and staff morale, in a period of gross mismanagement. For the few of us who stuck out those troubled years, we watched as a never-ending stream of colleagues some brilliant, all disillusioned left the premises. The network carriers were struggling, while Ryanair and EasyJet were thriving. We were becoming marginalised, despite the fact that we still had the critical mass.

The regime change, when it came, was too little, too late. Now AEA is about to become history although my friends and former colleagues will no doubt soldier on until the bitter end. The new organisation I believe the favoured name is Airlines For Europe (A4E), which is hardly a surprise since the Americans have had A4A for some time now may recruit some of them but I hold out no hopes.

Im not about to pass comment on how I think A4E might fare, other than it would take a Mother Theresa or Nelson Mandela or a Vladimir Putin to keep those five in order. Im happily out of there. But tonight I do feel for my friends who are left inside. And for the 61 years of significant aviation history that are gurgling down the plughole.
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