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Airport charges

Report on Airport Charges Directive

The European Commission published on 19 May 2014 a report on the application of the Airport Charges Directive by the Member States. In this report the Commission takes stock of the implementation of the Directive so far, noting that whilst some positive results can be identified in terms of increased consultation and transparency of airport charges, further work needs to be done to ensure consistent application in the EU. The Commission has also set up a new expert group, the Thessaloniki Forum of Airport Charges Regulators to discuss issues related to the implementation of the Directive. The report and the study carried out by external consultants are linked here below.

What are airport charges?

Airport charges are charged to airport users for the use of airport facilities. They include aircraft landing charges, charges for the processing of passengers and freight and other charges related to the use of airport infrastructure.

Airport charges are paid by airports users, that is to say, airlines transporting passengers and/or freight. Of course, these charges are ultimately paid, indirectly, by passengers and freight customers via the ticket price or freight forwarding fee.

Charges are applied in different ways, depending on the service which they cover. Passenger charges are levied per passenger whilst other charges are applied per aircraft landing or take-off.

Airport charging systems are in many instances imposed and governed by the national authorities. Even where the airports concerned are privately owned, the charges have to comply with regulatory parameters set by the authorities. Charging systems can also work as management tools. By varying certain charges, airports can try to increase the use of airport infrastructure or reduce the environmental impact of aviation.

Why is Europe involved?

Charges for the use of airport infrastructure can represent a significant expense for airlines. In the European single market, there is no justification for airport charges to be applied in a discriminatory manner, to the detriment or advantage of certain carriers. For the European aviation market to work properly it is important that minimum standards on the calculation of airport charges be applied in order to ensure fair competition among all carriers using an airport. Such common standards, however, need to respect the different systems of regulation which are in operation in the Member States. For this reason the European Union adopted a Directive in March 2009, which had to be implemented in all Member States by March 2011 at the latest. The Directive builds on and is complementary to the policies on charges for airports and air navigation services drawn up by the International Civil Aviation Organization.

The main objectives of the Directive, which will apply to all EU airports handling more than five million passengers per year and to the largest airport in each Member State, are as follows:

  • Greater transparency on the costs which charges are to cover. Airports shall be obliged to share a detailed breakdown of costs with airlines in order to justify the calculation of airport charges
  • Non-discrimination: airlines receiving the same service shall pay the same charge. However, airports can differentiate their services as long as the criteria for doing so are clear and transparent. Airports can also vary charges on environmental grounds (e.g. lower charges for more environmentally-friendly aircraft).
  • Systems of consultation on charges between airports and airlines (which are already in place at many EU airports) will become mandatory at all airports covered by the Directive
  • Member States will designate or set up an independent supervisory authority whose job will be to help settle disputes over charges between airports and airlines.