Fitness check of EU Airport Legislation

The Commission is carrying out a fitness check of EU airport legislation to determine if it still fir for purpose and delivering on its objectives.

The fitness check will consider recent trends such as market consolidation, capacity challenges, labour shortages, increased competition from non-EU airlines/airports and the need to decarbonise. It will also assess the potential for simplification and burden reduction, especially should any inconsistencies or synergies be identified.

  • Purpose and scope of the evaluation

Airports provide the essential infrastructure enabling airlines to provide connectivity to passengers and freight customers in the EU and further afield. They also have an important role as transport hubs facilitating onward connections to other transport modes.

In that sense, three pieces of EU legislation regulate EU airport capacity and infrastructure rom a single market perspective:

The Commission launched preparatory work to revise the Slot Regulation and the Airport Charges Directive, and to evaluate the Ground handling Directive. However, the work was put on hold due to several developments that significantly affected the aviation market, as the COVID-19 crisis.

The specific objectives against which the EU airport legislation will be evaluated are as follows:

  1. Efficient use and pricing of airport capacity and ground handling services, delivering connectivity in line with consumer preferences and needs of airport users.
  2. Facilitate adequate competition on a level playing field between airports, airlines and other service providers.
  3. Transparent and independent oversight over slot allocation, setting of airport charges and awarding of ground handling contracts.
  4. Adequacy of airport and ground handling services in terms of quantity, quality, reliability, resilience and investment needs.

The fitness check will aim to answer the question whether the existing EU body of law on airports is still effective in achieving the above-mentioned specific objectives and whether it is the most efficient and cost-effective way to achieve them.

It will assess whether, considering recent market developments, the rules are still relevant in light of the original but also new political priorities (e.g. sustainability, green investments and incentivising environmental performance, resilience, and easing administrative burden) and coherent with other EU legislation and policy.

Particular attention will be paid to links and synergies between the three pieces of legislation and other provisions affecting airport capacity:

(i)               Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008 on air services – traffic distribution rules, public service obligations and

(ii)             Regulation (EU) No 598/2014 relating to airport noise management, and

(iii)            To the interaction with competition law, including State aid law, and other policy frameworks such as energy, environment and climate policy.

The fitness check will also assess whether the three pieces of legislation bring EU added value.

 

  • Next steps

The Commission will undertake the following activities to gather evidence and stakeholder views on the issues covered under the fitness check.

  • Feedback on this call for evidence.
  • A 12-week public consultation, to be launched separately in Q4 2024 to gather views from general public and affected stakeholders on high-level issues; and
  • Targeted consultation activities (detailed survey, case studies and interviews) with the most affected stakeholders, as part of a support study).

Further input will be sought from the Commission´s advisory committees, notabley the Thessaoliniki Forum of Airport Charges Regulators and the Sectorial Dialogue Committee for Civil Aviation.

A factual summary report of the public consultation will be published within 8 weeks of the conclusion of the consultation. A synopsis report reflecting all consultation activities will be included as an annex to the fitness check report.

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