The airports in Athens and Heraklion, Crete, are among the 75 airports in Europe that have been called to follow a set of EU rules on airport charges as mentioned in a directive launched in 2011 by the European Commission.
The charges the directive refers to are fees airlines pay to airports for the use of runways and terminals.
The issue was discussed on 13 June in Thessaloniki, Greece, during a Forum of Airport Charges Regulators launched by the European Commission. The forum was hosted by the Greek Presidency of the Council of the European Union and attended by representatives of independent airport charges regulators from all countries of Europe.
Airport charges are estimated to account for up to 10 percent of airlines’ operating costs, which are ultimately paid by passengers as part of the ticket price. “By ensuring that airports price their facilities according to market principles, the directive helps passengers get value for money when they fly from European airports,” according to the European Commission.
The first meeting of the forum in Thessaloniki was held to promote a more consistent application of the directive and more cooperation among Member States’ independent supervisory authorities. The forum will meet regularly in the future.
Uneven implementation of EU rules by Member States
A recent report released by the Commission revealed that since the introduction of the rules in 2011, larger European airports have become more transparent when taking decisions about these charges. However, problems identified at a number of important airports show that the directive has not been applied consistently across the EU and further monitoring of the situation is needed.
The directive sets out a number of principles on airport charges to be followed by the main airport in each Member State and all airports handling more than 5 million passengers per year and provides for the setting up of independent bodies for the monitoring of its application:
Consultation: airports should consult airlines regularly on charges, in particular when changes are made.
- Transparency: airports are obliged to share certain information on the costs of runways and terminals with their airline customers.
- Non-discrimination: airports should not discriminate among airlines. The directive does not prevent the modulation of charges for issues of public and general interest (e.g. environmental charges) but the criteria should be relevant, objective and transparent.
- Independent supervisory authority: each Member State must set up or designate an independent supervisory authority (ISA), responsible for the supervision of the directive’s application.