2-Dec-2011 11:02 AM

European Commission prepares EU airport policy package

The European Commission announced (01-Dec-2011) a comprehensive package of measures to help increase the capacity of Europe's airports, reduce delays and improve the quality of services offered to passengers. The measures address the quality of services passengers and airlines receive on the ground before and prior to take-off and landing, covering areas such as baggage handling, check-in and refuelling. The measures also cover the transparency of decisions on airport noise, as well as the efficiency of the network of take-off and landing slots. The package consists of a policy summary document and three legislative measures, on slots, ground-handling and noise.
  • Slots: The EC proposals introduce market based mechanisms for the trading of slots between airlines in a transparent way, as well as measures to ensure that existing capacity is used by airlines, by raising the threshold on the "use it or lose it rule" from 80% to 85%. The proposed measures on slots would allow the system to handle 24 million more passengers p/a by 2025. They will be worth EUR5 billion to the European economy and create up to 62,000 jobs over the period 2012-2025. Five European airports are currently operating at capacity: Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, Milan Linate. On current trends this could increase to 19 key airports by 2030, including for example Paris CDG;  
  • Ground handling: The EC is putting forward proposals to improve the quality and efficiency of ground handling services at airports. Measures will include: increasing, for key ground-handling services that are still currently restricted - baggage handling, ramp handling, refuelling and oil, freight and mail services - the minimum choice of ground-handlers available to airlines at large airports from two to three. There are also new proposals to allow Member States to go further in protecting workers rights so staff can transfer under existing conditions when a contract goes to a new provider. The proposals strengthen the role of airports as the "ground co-ordinator" with overall responsibility for the coordination of ground-handling services at an airport. They provide airports with a set of new tools to do this, for example, to require minimum quality standards to be respected by all ground-handlers at their airport. These measures will strengthen also the resilience of airports facing major disruptions;
  • Noise: The EC proposals increase the transparency in the process of setting noise-related restrictions at airports, including an oversight role for the EC. This gives the EC a scrutiny role but does not replace a Member State's final decision. The proposals also update existing legislation in line with technological developments to make it easier for authorities to phase-out nosier aircraft;
  • Next steps: The EC proposals must be approved by the European Parliament and Member State Governments by the "co-decision" procedure, before being adopted. European Commissioner responsible for Transport. Source: Company Statement, 01-Dec-2011. [more - Original Source - European Commission] [more - Original European Commission Report] [more - original PR - VP and Commission for Transport Speech on launch of Better Airports Package] [more - original PR - European Commission - Challenges Ahead

European Commission: 'Europe's airports are facing a capacity crunch. If business and the travelling public are to take best advantage of the air network, we have to act now. 70% of all delays to flights are already caused by problems on the ground not in the air. On present trends, nineteen key European airports will be full to bursting by 2030. The resulting congestion could mean delays for half of all flights across the network. The status quo is not an option for airports in Europe. Faced with intense global competition, if we do not change the way we do business, we may not be doing business at all," Vice President Siim Kallas.

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