Fitness check – internal aviation market
The European Commission services published a report on the Fitness Check on Internal Aviation Market – the evaluation of a wide range of EU rules in the air transport sector.
The purpose of the Aviation Fitness Check was to identify potential overlaps, gaps, inconsistencies or obsolete measures, which may have appeared over time, and which may have called for regulatory or other action from the Commission. The process involved consultations of stakeholders and five studies by external consultants.
The Fitness Check evaluated or assessed the following:
- Rules on market access for air operators, including operational modalities such as leasing of aircraft, treatment of non-scheduled services, traffic rights restrictions (public service obligation, traffic distribution, environmental and emergency measures) and insurance.
- Rules on the Code of Conduct for computerised reservation systems that operate IT platforms for the distribution of air tickets through travel agents.
- Rules on display of air fares to the general public (price transparency) and their enforcement.
- The rights of passengers affected by airline insolvencies, such as care and re-routing, of utmost importance for passengers stranded away from home.
- Employment and working conditions in the aviation sector.
The Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport looked at the following legislation:
- Regulation 1008/2008 on common rules for the operation of air services in the EU
- Regulation 80/2009 on a Code of Conduct for computerised reservation systems
- Regulation 785/2004 on insurance requirements for air carriers and aircraft operators
The Fitness Check concluded that key opportunities for improvement laid in the enforcement action and coordination and exchange of best practices between EU Member States.The existingrules on market access to air transport services, ticketing price transparency, passenger protection in case of airline insolvency, minimum insurance and computerised reservation systems are suitable and well balanced for promoting innovation and fair competition between air carriers and to ensure that passengers are adequately informed about air ticket prices and receive assistance if their flight is cancelled because of airline insolvency.
The report identifies a series of issues where more detailed guidance would be useful, where enforcement should be continued and strengthened, and where further coordination, in particular between national enforcement authorities within and across EU Member States, would be beneficial.
For the European Commission services this means, for instance:
- Calling on national enforcement authorities to identify practical issues related to the price transparency requirements, and developing guidance on best practices.
- Facilitating, in cooperation with Member States, voluntary agreements between airlines abolishing commercial practices that may be considered detrimental and unfair to passengers.
- Enabling an exchange of best practices on how to secure assistance to passengers in case of an airline bankruptcy and encouraging national authorities to strengthen their licensing oversight of airline's financial situation.
- Continuing their enforcement mandate under the Code of Conduct for computerised reservation system.
- Disseminating best practices for a better enforcement of Community rules on public service obligations that can be imposed on air carriers.
Air transport services - market access
DG MOVE has consulted stakeholders on various aspects relating to the functioning of the internal market for aviation. The first stakeholder consultations were organised with European level organisations and Member States on 27 and 28 June 2011. The agenda for this meeting is included below. The minutes from these meetings can be found below.
Agenda 27 June [14 KB]
Stakeholder Consultation - PSO [11 KB]
DG MOVE has commissioned a study into the issue of air ticket price transparency. The objective of the study is to assess whether the rules on transparency of prices to consumers, both in Regulation 1008/2008 and in other texts aimed at protecting consumers' interests are meeting their intended objective: to offer consumers a transparent price with an easily identifiable final price and a price they can easily compare with other offers. Regulation 1008/2008 defines that the final price of air fares shall be indicated at all times, including taxes, charges and surcharges and fees which are unavoidable or foreseeable at the time of publication of the price. The study evaluates whether these rules are still fit for purpose in the current market circumstances of increased competition and increased unbundling of air ticket prices.
The main findings of the study is that at this stage, there is no need for further consideration to be given to legislative change, but action should be taken to adopt guidance on best practices and to support a voluntary agreement amongst airlines abolishing excessive payment fees.
DG MOVE has commissioned a study into the issue of insurance requirements for air carriers and aircraft operators. The objective of the study is to assess whether the rules on insurance requirements of air carriers and aircraft operators (Regulation (EC) 785/2004 and its amendment Commission Regulation (EU) 285/2010 ) are meeting their intended objective: to ensure that air carriers are adequately insured to cover their liability in case of accidents, in particular in respect of passengers, baggage, cargo and third parties.
The study evaluates whether these rules are still fit for purpose in the current market circumstances.
- Mid-term evaluation of Regulation 785/2004 on insurance requirements of air carriers and aircraft operators - Final Report - July 2012
Computerised reservation systems
Regulation 80/2009 on a Code of Conduct for Computerised Reservation System sets out a code of conduct for CRSs the objective of which is to offer consumers an unbiased choice of air fares under fair conditions. In evaluating whether the Regulation is achieving this objective, the Fitness Check considered the structure of the market in which CRS providers operate, a structure which is rapidly evolving and inherently complex. Regulation (EC) 80/2009 is perceived as necessary and adequate to tackle some possible distortions that cannot be addressed through competition policy. The Commission services will continue carrying out their enforcement mandate under the current rules.
To access detailed information about the study on the social dimension as well as all relevant documents in the subject please click here to reach the dedicated webpage.
Passenger protection in case of airline insolvency
The creation of the single market in aviation has been accompanied by a process of regulatory convergence in various fields and notably passengers' protection. Although a number of passenger rights have been regulated at EU level, the specific case when a passenger has purchased a stand-alone air ticket and the air carrier goes insolvent has not been solved yet. This fact makes a contrast with the protection that is available if the passenger had bought a ticket as part of a travel package under Directive (EC) 90/314/EEC. With regard to the issue of passenger protection in case of airline insolvencies, the Fitness Check concluded that, at this stage, no legislative action is required. However, the Commission services will be closely following actions undertaken by Member States and voluntary agreements adopted by the industry. The Commission detailed such further action in Communication on the same topic adopted on 18 March 2013 (COM(2013) 129 final ).