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Airline Associations Call For Opening Of Ground Handling Services At EU Airports

Ground handling servicesThe Association of European Airlines (AEA), the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) and the International Air Carrier Association (IACA) today, Monday, 10 December, called on the European Parliament to increase competition in the ground handling market to benefit operators and increase the quality of services for passengers.

The associations strongly urge Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to vote in favor of the Ground Handling Regulation in plenary session on the Airport Package, which will take place on 12 December.

“A further opening of the ground handling market is vital for getting better quality and efficiency in ground handling services at EU airports. Increasing the competition among providers will help to drive down costs for operators and most importantly, increase the quality of services for our passengers,” the associations said in a joint press release.

The Ground Handling Regulation, initiated by the European Commission in their ‘Better Airport Package’ proposal, is intended to increase the number of ground handling companies–both third party (specialized ground handling companies) and self-handlers (an airline or airport’s own ground handlers).

In particular, for airports with more than five million passengers or 100,000 tonnes per year of freight, this limit cannot be less than three companies, and for self-handlers, the market is fully opened. Today the number of self-handlers can be limited to no fewer than two at airports with more than two million passengers.

Although the three associations feel the regulation could have gone further, the proposal was welcomed earlier this year as an important step in the right direction.

Last month, the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee rejected the new regulation and the airlines are now looking to the entire European Parliament to accept the logic of the airlines’ case, and support the new legislation.

The associations believe that if the European Union “is serious about a fully open and competitive air transport sector,” then a gradual opening must take place across the whole industry.

“We cannot continue protecting existing monopolies and so we urge all MEPs not to waste this important opportunity to help improve ground handling services across Europe,” the associations cloncluded.

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