The European Commission's plans to liberalise ground-handling services at EU airports has been opposed by the European Parliament's transport committee.
The European Parliament's transport committee voted today (6
November) to reject a proposal from the European Commission to liberalise
ground-handling services at EU airports.
The vote comes a day after 2,000 demonstrators from ten
member states demonstrated outside the Parliament in Brussels, organised by the
European Transport Workers Federation. The union says a 1996 liberalisation of
these services has already led to deteriorating social protection for workers
and only saves money for airlines. The Commission had wanted to go further than
the 1996 law by requiring airports to open the market to more companies not
affiliated with the airport or the national carrier.
Green Austrian MEP Eva Lichtenberger said after the vote,
“The proposals to further liberalise the sector failed to address concerns
with social and employment standards for workers in airports.”
But the Association of European Airlines decried the vote.
“As a result of the European Parliament's decision, the ground-handling market
will remain limited to only two suppliers at some of the largest European
airports, thereby protecting existing monopolies and depriving both passengers
and airlines of more efficient and competitive ground-handling services,” the association
said in a statement.
MEPs also rejected the Commission's plan to end monopolies
over airport slots by big airlines, opting instead to align themselves with an
alternative proposal agreed by member states last week.
Under the Commission's proposal to update 1993 rules on airport slot
allocation, a slot would be taken away from an airline if it is used
less than 85% of the time. The current threshold is 80%. The committee voted to
keep the existing threshold, as did member states. But this could still be
reversed in a plenary vote by the full parliament.
The Commission's plan to increase its own control over
airport noise restrictions, the third piece of the airports package it proposed
in December, survived the committee with some small changes. “Despite some
cosmetic changes, the proposed rules on airport noise still foresee a role for
the EU Commission in decision-making on flight plans, allowing the Commission
to intervene to oppose operating restrictions at airports,” said Lichtenberger.
“For example, airports that want to introduce
night-time flight bans, which are clearly in the interests of local citizens,
could be challenged by the Commission,” she added.
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