BRUSSELS - Following the vote of the Transport Committee of the European Parliament (EP) on new EU rules to safeguard competition in air transport (Regulation 868/2004), Europe’s airports have expressed their concerns.
While ACI Europe supports the efforts of the European Commission to deliver more effective rules to ensure fair competition between EU and third country airlines, the amended text approved by the EP’s Transport Committee is deeply concerning.
Olivier Jankovec, Director General ACI Europe said “By allowing the European Commission to impose sanctions on non-EU airlines even before alleged anti-competitive practices are duly documented, assessed and established, the text approved yesterday sends a worrying signal to our international trading partners - and could end up having far reaching negative impacts on the connectivity of our regions and on consumers. This is not how Europe should behave, especially at a time of growing anxiety over the standing and future of the wider Global trading system.”
ACI Europe worries that if confirmed, these new provisions would jeopardise existing dispute resolution mechanisms and create significant legal uncertainty. This in turn would make aviation negotiations to further open up market access with the EU’s external markets more difficult – potentially compromising the ability of the Commission to deliver on the core objectives of its Aviation Strategy: a Europe that is open and connected with the rest of World.
Europe’s airports and their communities depend on open aviation markets (Open Skies) to be able to develop new air routes and increase air traffic. Airports do so by actively marketing themselves to airlines. This involves providing them with robust market research and showing the potential of unserved markets, while at the same time offering extensive rebates and marketing support.
This means that airports can only develop their connectivity when competition thrives amongst airlines – which also leads to more choice for passengers (both in terms of destinations and prices). This only happens when airports are in a position to attract both EU and non-EU airlines. In this regard, while EU airlines have been the backbone of our connectivity, the ACI Europe’s 2017 Airport Industry Connectivity Report* clearly showed the important role played over the past 10 years by Gulf & Turkish Airlines in further developing air connectivity for Europe.
Jankovec further commented “At a time when significant airline consolidation is taking place in Europe – with more expected soon – airports cannot support a proposal that risks hurting their ability to develop new air services with third-country airlines and impact existing ones, thus limiting the choice of airlines and destinations for their communities.”
The ACI Europe 2017 Airport Industry Connectivity Report was produced in partnership with SEO Amsterdam Economics.