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.