The new proposals included in the Airport Package adopted by the Commission on 1st December 2011
The aim of the Commission proposals is to improve the efficiency and quality of services offered at EU airports by ensuring better coordination of operations at airports and by enlarging airlines' choice of handlers available whilst at the same time protecting the employment rights of groundhandling workers.
The new proposals on groundhandling will include key measures to:
- Ensure that airlines have an increased choice of groundhandling solutions at EU airports. The proposals introduce full opening of the self-handling market for airlines. At the same time they will increase the minimum number of service providers (in restricted services) from two to three at large airports.
- Give airports more control over the co-ordination of groundhandling services. Establish a new role for the airport managing body as "ground co-ordinator" of ground services (including by setting minimum quality standards). That means that airports are tasked with the proper co-ordination of groundhandling within an airport. And most importantly they have the tools to establish minimum quality standards to be respected by all groundhandlers at their airport. In addition the proposals will clarify rules for subcontracting.
- The proposals will clarify the legal framework for training and transfer of staff. Groundhandling is a very labour intensive industry (labour accounts for 65%-80% of the costs). High quality, well trained staff is essential to maintain the safety and security of groundhandling services, as well as to ensure quality services. To this end, the new proposals include provisions to strengthen the training and stable employment conditions of staff, notably, by:
- Introducing a new possibility for Member States to impose a requirement on companies that win groundhandling contracts in restricted markets to transfer the staff from the previous contract holder with their full existing conditions
- Establishing compulsory minimum training for staff.
In addition, the proposals will:
- Strengthen the groundhandling market via the mutual recognition of national approvals for groundhandlers issued by Member States. In other words, an approval issued in one Member State would entitle a handler to provide services in a different Member State. 'Mutual recognition' is a standard mechanism used in the European single market to break down barriers to providing services across borders;
- introduce greater transparency on how airlines (and their handlers) are charged for airport 'centralised infrastructures' (for example, fees charged by the airport for the use of baggage processing systems) and under which conditions airports themselves can provide groundhandling services. This is to create a more level playing field to allow independent handlers to compete more effectively.