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MEPs reject airport liberalisation

By Dave Keating  -  06.11.2012 / 18:16 CET
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.
© 2014 European Voice. All rights reserved.
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