Monday, 26 May 2014

EU Commission releases report on the implementation of the Airport-Charges-Directive

The EU Commission has released a report on the implementation of Directive 2009/12/EC on airport charges. The report evaluates the Directive as to its impact on consultation of airport users by airport managers, transparency and non-discrimination of the charges imposed, the role of the established Independent Supervisory Authorities (ISAs) in each Member State, and the flexibility to impose differentiated services on airport users. The report concludes that the Directive has brought about improvements, yet further steps should be taken, for its implementation varies not only among Member States but also among different airports of the same Member State.

Consultation of airport users, i.e. mainly airlines, has improved, yet problems remain in some Member States regarding the time given to the airlines to submit their opinion, especially with regard to charges for prefinancing future infrastructure. 

As to transparency, in most Member States no detailed cost data are made available. The Commission considers that in such cases a greater degree of supervision from the ISAs may be necessary.

Complains have also been expressed concerning the modulation in charges applied by the airports, which in the opinion of the airlines result in discriminations. Such complains focus on modulations that have the form of incentives schemes, i.e. charges designed to increase traffic in airports. To mitigate the problem, the Commission proposes greater transparency and sharing of experiences among Member States. 

Regarding the ISAs, airlines are satisfied with the establishment of a complaint procedure, yet they would welcome the establishment of also concrete deadlines for the complaint submission, to increase legal certainty and facilitate investments in infrastructure. On the other hand, airlines have expressed their concerns as to the factual independence of the ISAs in some States combined with the fact that many airports are either State owned or State controlled. Another issue of concern was the insufficient technical expertise and the resources made available to the ISAs by the Member States.   
Problems in the implementation of the Directive have been identified also regarding the differentiation of charges according to the services offered.

In sum, the Commission is not dissatisfied with the impementation of the Directive. Nevertheless, it will keep monitoring it, not excluding a possible revision in the future. In the meantime, a forum of ISAs has been set up, to exchange experiences, identify best practices and facilitate coordination. Its first meeting will take place in Thessaloniki, Greece, on 13 June 2014.  

You can find the Commission’s report here and the related press release here.

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