About this consultation

Consultation period
15 March 2018 - 7 June 2018

Consultation outcome

The Commission will summarise the replies after the end of the consultation period. The results will be taken into account when preparing the legislative proposal.

Target group

All citizens with an interest in aviation are welcome to contribute.

In line with the Better Regulation Guidelines two broad consultation activities are carried out for the back-to-back ex-post evaluation and impact assessment of Regulation No 1008/2008 on common rules for the operation for air services in the EU/EEA (hereafter “the Regulation”). A set of targeted consultation activities of key industry stakeholders covered by the provisions of the Regulation (i.e. air carriers, airports, trade unions, consumer organisations, aircraft lessors and financiers) as well as Member States and enforcement bodies involved in applying the provisions of this regulation are carried out by an external consultant in the course of a support study, while the open public consultation of the general public is carried out by the Commission.

The external study for the evaluation is carried out by the consultant Ricardo from 12 December 2017 through June 2018. The consultant will conduct a targeted consultation of stakeholders from mid-February to April 2018. The impact assessment is planned to take place in the second half of 2018, depending on the findings of the evaluation.

Other key stakeholders or organisations with specific expertise on the topic, if they wish to participate in this targeted consultation either during evaluation phase or impact assessment phase or both, are invited to express their interest by sending an email to MOVE-AIR-SERVICES-REGULATION@ec.europa.eu, specifying a) the stakeholder group to which they belong (e.g. public administration, trade union, consultancy, academia, etc.) and b) to which of the phase of this back-to-back exercise they wish to contribute.

Objective of the consultation

The European Commission has started an evaluation, which will be followed by an impact assessment in view of a possible revision of Regulation No 1008/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on common rules for the operation of air services ("the Air Services Regulation"').

In 1944 the Chicago Convention came into force. It is an international agreement that set the foundation and the legal framework for rules on air services navigation at a global level. The Convention, among other technical matters, specified that no air carrier can provide air services to another states' territory unless it is specifically authorised to do so by that state. These authorisations are so-called traffic rights granted in international agreements between states, referred to as Air Services Agreements (ASAs). These ASAs usually also specify that the air carriers which receive the traffic rights are owned and controlled by the contracting state or its nationals. The ownership and control requirements ensure that traffic rights exchanged under such agreements are exploited by the contracting parties only.

In 1992 the EU adopted three regulations, the 'Third Package' , which established and organised the internal EU aviation market. In contrast to the international aviation framework under the Chicago Convention, in the EU every EU air carrier has the right to fly to any point in the EU/EEA unless it is specifically restricted from doing so.

In 2008 the Air Services Regulation has consolidated into one single act the three pre-existing regulations. In doing so, it has also introduced changes regarding a limited number of issues.

The Regulation establishes the concept of an EU air carrier. In particular, it establishes who delivers the operating licence (i.e. the instrument that confers to EU air carriers the right to operate commercial air services) and under which conditions. Conditions include the possession of a valid air operator certificate (AOC) which certifies the technical capacity of an undertaking to safely provide air services. In addition EU air carriers must have their principal place of business, that is their head office and place from which they exercise operational and financial control, in the EU and also be majority owned and effectively controlled by EU Member States and/or their nationals.

Once in possession of a valid operating licence, all EU air carriers are entitled to operate air services on any route within the EU without further authorisation. The Regulation also provides for a regular monitoring of EU air carriers' financial situation.

Moreover, the Regulation establishes some exceptions to the freedom to operate. In particular, it allows Member States to impose - under specific conditions - public service obligations to ensure air services to and from under-served regions. Similarly, it allows Member States to regulate the distribution of air traffic between airports provided certain conditions are met. The regulation also establishes that air carriers are free to set the price of their intra-EU air services and in doing so they should respect price transparency provisions. Finally, it contains provisions on code-sharing (an arrangement between air carriers where one of them offers seats on a flight that will be operated by the other air carrier under a different flight number or code) as well as on aircraft leasing (and agreement to lease an aircraft by itself (dry leasing) or with aircrew (wet-leasing)).

The Regulation applies throughout the EU and EEA.

Based on preliminary information collected, the Commission services identified possible areas of concern with the current regulation which is further detailed in the Inception Impact Assessment. They include

  • Factors that continue to undermine competition between EU carriers, and inadequate consumer protection. (e.g. inconsistent application of existing rules; unclear definitions of basic terms).
  • Risk of hampering innovation in the EU air carrier business models and of jeopardising quality jobs.
  • Risks affecting EU carriers' ability to maintain and develop their business in an increasingly global environment;
  • Risks for EU consumers' ability to benefit from truly global air carrier business and stronger competition in the EU internal aviation market.

To confirm or to reject this initial assessment, the Commission launched the evaluation of the application and effects of the Regulation.

This public consultation is therefore designed to support both the evaluation of the current Air Services Regulation and the work on identifying problems, objectives and possible options for the future. In this respect, the Commission published on 21 November 2016 an Evaluation Roadmap and on 22 February an Inception Impact Assessment.

The objective of this open consultation is to ensure that, in addition to the organisations and individuals directly involved in the application or subject to the requirements of the Air Services Regulation, the general public is provided with the possibility to express their opinion about the topic.

Respondents are welcome to expand on their answers in the text boxes foreseen for this purpose. At the end of the questionnaire, it is also possible to upload supporting documents (e.g. position papers, statistics) to complement the contribution.

How to submit your response

The questionnaire is made available in all official EU languages (except Irish), and responses can be submitted in any official EU language.

Please note that in order to ensure a fair and transparent consultation process only responses received through the online questionnaire will be taken into account and included in the summary report.