Commission seeks formal explanations from Spain on changes to airport charges
Today the European Commission has formally asked Spain to clarify how airport charges have been modified at airports operated by AENA Aeropuertos. The decision to send a letter of formal notice has been taken following the reception of several complaints asserting that the European Directive on airport charges has not been respected.
The EU rules
The Directive on airport charges, adopted in 2009, lays down minimum requirements for how airport charges are calculated and for consultation between airports and airport users (airlines) before charges are changed. The Directive also obliges airports to provide sufficient information on the costs to airport users. Member States are required to set up an independent supervisory authority to arbitrate disputes between airports and airlines over airport charges and to help ensure that the Directive is properly implemented.
The reason for lodging a formal complaint
The Commission has received a number of complaints from airlines and associations representing the aviation and travel industry. According to these complaints, airlines were not properly consulted over changes to airport charges which took effect in July 2012. Whilst the changes have brought about modest increases at some smaller airports, the passenger charge payable by airlines at Madrid's airport has doubled. A similar increase has occurred at Barcelona's airport.
The passenger charge is intended to cover the cost that the airport bears for providing terminal infrastructures to serve the passengers. For the airlines serving the two airports mentioned, the increase of the charges is significant. As a consequence airlines might be discouraged from serving the two airports. The Commission is therefore seeking further information to ensure that the changes were justified on the basis of the costs for the airport.
Furthermore, the Commission would like to ensure that Spain has put in place the independent supervisory authority as requested by the Directive.
The first step of the infringement procedure
The Commission is sending a letter of formal notice to Spain today. The letter provides full details of the matter and invites Spain to submit its observations within the next two months.
Helen Kearns (+32 2 298 76 38)
Dale Kidd (+32 2 295 74 61)