The Association of European Airlines (AEA), the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) and the International Air Carrier Association (IACA) all called on the European Parliament to increase competition in the ground handling market which will benefit operators and increase the quality of services for passengers. The associations strongly urge MEPS to vote in favour of the Ground Handling Regulation in plenary session on the Airport Package, which will take place on 12 December.
The Ground Handling Regulation, initiated by the European Commission in their ‘Better Airport Package’ proposal, is intended to increase the number of ground handling companies – both third party (specialised ground handling companies) and self-handlers (an airline or airport’s own ground handlers). In particular, for airports with more than five million passengers or 100,000 tonnes per year of freight, this limit cannot be less than three companies, and for self-handlers, the market is fully opened. Today the number of self-handlers can be limited to no fewer than two at airports with more than two million passengers.
Although the three associations feel the regulation could have gone further, the proposal was welcomed earlier this year as an important step in the right direction.
Last month, the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee rejected the new regulation and the airlines are now looking to the entire European Parliament to accept the logic of the airline's case, and support the new legislation.
Commenting ahead of the vote, the Heads of the three airline associations, AEA, ERA and IACA stated:
“A further opening of the ground handling market is vital for getting better quality and efficiency in ground handling services at EU airports. Increasing the competition among providers will help to drive down costs for operators and most importantly, increase the quality of services for our passengers.”
“If the European Union is serious about a fully open and competitive air transport sector, then a gradual opening must take place across the whole industry. We have seen the benefits of opening up the air carriers’ market and this should be continued within other areas of the sector too.”
“We cannot continue protecting existing monopolies and so we urge all MEPs not to waste this important opportunity to help improve ground handling services across Europe”.