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Internal market

Air transport makes a key contribution to the European economy, with more than 100 scheduled airlines, a network of over 400 airports, and 60 air navigation service providers. The aviation sector directly employs between 1.4-2 million people and directly or indirectly supports 4.7-5.5 million jobs. Aviation directly contributes more than €110 billion to the European GDP. Some 900 million passengers departed or arrived at EU airports in 2014. Linking people and regions, air transport plays a vital role in the integration and the competitiveness of Europe, as well as its interaction with the world.

This is largely due to the creation of a single market for aviation in the 1990s. Air transport had been traditionally a highly regulated industry, dominated by national flag carriers and state-owned airports. The internal market has removed all commercial restrictions for airlines flying within the EU, such as restrictions on the routes, the number of flights or the setting of fares. All EU airlines may operate air services on any route within the EU.

Prices have fallen dramatically, new business models appeared and – especially in terms of choice of routes – the progress is impressive. European policy has profoundly transformed the air transport industry by creating the conditions for competitiveness and ensuring both quality of service and the highest level of safety. Consumers, airlines, airports and employees have all benefited as this policy has led to more activity, new routes and airports, greater choice, low prices and an increased overall quality of service.

It is the Regulation 1008/2008 on common rules for the operation of air services in the Community ("the Air Service Regulation") that provides the economic framework for air transport in the European Community setting out the rules – as of 1 November 2008 – on:

  • the grant and oversight of operating licences of Community air carriers,
  • market access,
  • aircraft registration and leasing,
  • public service obligations,
  • traffic distribution between airports and
  • pricing.

Closely linked to the internal market of aviation, specific competition rules are applicable in this field. An Aviation Guideline was adopted in 2014. This Guideline set out the conditions under which Member States and local authorities can grant state aid to airports and airlines in the EU.

 

Legislation

Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 September 2008 on common rules for the operation of air services in the Community

 

Policy and other related documents

Summaries of legislation - Common rules for the operation of air services

Fitness check – internal aviation market (Commission Staff Working Document)

Communication on passenger protection in the event of airline insolvency

Market observatory - Annual reports

Study on state of play of connectivity in Central, Eastern and SouthEast Europe (CESE) – 2014 - Paper A ; Paper B

The European Commission is required to publish the list of decisions of the competent licensing authorities, to grant, suspend or revoke operating licences in the EU's Official Journal every year under article 10 of Regulation 1008/2008 on common rules for the operation of air services in the Community. The most recent publication can be found here .

Documents related to the Expert Group on Aviation Internal Market

Documents related to the Advisory Committee on application of the legislation on access for Community air carriers to intra-Community air routes

Topical reports

2008: Fuel and air transport

2008: Airline Business Models