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Groundhandling at Community airports

The groundhandling services at European Union (EU) airports to which access is being opened up include all the activities carried out at the airport to enable airlines to carry out air transport activities (taxi guidance, cleaning, refuelling, baggage services, etc.)

ACT

Council Directive 96/67/EC of 15 October 1996 on access to the groundhandling market at Community airports [See amending acts].

SUMMARY

The Directive applies to all Community airports open to commercial traffic whose annual traffic is not less than two million passenger movements or 50 000 tonnes of cargo.

The managing body of an airport *, the airport user * or the supplier * of groundhandling services must, under the supervision of the designated auditor, rigorously separate the accounts of their groundhandling activities from the accounts of their other activities.

In parallel, the Member States may:

  • set up, for each of the airports concerned, a committee of representatives of airport users to represent users' interests;
  • require that suppliers of groundhandling services be established within the Community; they may limit the number of suppliers authorised to provide categories of groundhandling services such as baggage handling, ramp handling, fuel and oil handling, cargo and mail handling;
  • reduce to two the number of users able to provide self-handling for groundhandling services such as: baggage handling, ramp handling, fuel and oil handling, cargo and mail handling;
  • benefit from exemptions (limited in time) where at an airport, specific constraints of available space or capacity make it impossible to open up the market and/or implement self-handling;
  • reserve for one body, under certain conditions, the management of the centralized infrastructures which cannot be divided up or the cost of which does not allow for duplication. In parallel, subject to certain conditions, Member States may grant exemptions to airports where specific constraints make it impossible to open up the market and/or implement self-handling to the degree provided for in the Directive;
  • oblige the supplier chosen at an airport to also operate on islands forming part of the territory of the Member State;
  • subject the activity of suppliers of groundhandling services to the requirement to obtain a licence issued by a public authority independent of the airport, in order to guarantee safety, security, environmental protection and compliance with social legislation;
  • take the necessary measures to ensure that suppliers of groundhandling services and airport users wishing to self-handle have access to airport installations. Where access to these installations is subject to a fee, the fee shall be determined according to relevant, objective, transparent and non-discriminatory criteria.
  • adopt, subject to the other provisions of Community law, the necessary measures to ensure the protection of workers' rights and respect for the environment.

Background

This Directive provides for a gradual implementation schedule, according to whether self-handling services or third party handling services are involved. With regard to self-handling (services that airlines can provide themselves), the Directive applies from 1 January 1998. With regard to third party handling services (services provided by third party companies), the Directive applies from 1 January 2001. From 1 January 2001, the Directive applies to any airport located on the territory of a Member State at which the annual traffic is not less than 2 million passenger movements or 50 000 tonnes of cargo.

Key terms used in the act
  • Manager: the body responsible for administrating and managing airport infrastructures and supervising and coordinating the activities carried out by different operators.
  • User: natural or legal person carrying passengers, mail or cargo by air.
  • Service provider: natural or legal person providing to third parties one or more categories of groundhandling services.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into force - Date of expiryDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 96/67/EC14.11.1996-OJ L 272, 25.10.1996

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Regulation (EC) No 1882/200320.11.2003-OJ L 284, 31.10.2003
Last updated: 05.02.2008
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