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ERA eyes expansion to Eastern Europe, Central Asia

5 February 2013

atwonline.com of 2/5/2013 - The European Regions Airline Association (ERA) is looking to expand to new regions including Eastern Europe and Central Asia. 

ERA DG Simon McNamara told ATW in Salzburg that its 51 member airlines continue to feel the pinch of the economic downturn. "It is a very challenging period for regional airlines, but it is not new when we look back on the past five years," he said.

Several regional airlines-including Cirrus Air and OLT Express Germany-have ceased operations over the past year. Others face uncertain futures as mainline carriers end partnerships with regional carriers. "There is no doubt consolidation in the industry is going on, particularly in the core of Europe," McNamara said.

He sees huge opportunities in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, which are still regulated, but said that as they become deregulated, ERA is very interested in them. Other new regions could also include places such as Kazakhstan, Ukraine or even Russia, he said.

McNamara believes there will be further consolidations, mergers and bankruptcies across the board as competition remains a strategic issue. He also said that regulation, which adds complexity and cost, needs to be simplified.

He expects passenger traffic for ERA members to decrease for 2012. "For the full-year 2013, I will anticipate either neutral growth or a small reduction in capacity," he said.

ERA members carry 70.6 million passengers on 1.6 million flights to 426 destinations in 61 European countries annually.