Brussels, 18 July 2006
More competition and better quality: European Commission wants to strengthen the Single Market for Aviation
The European Commission adopted today a proposal to modernise the Single Market legislation for aviation. The proposal will ensure a consistent application of EU legislation in all Member States, thereby creating equal conditions for all airlines. It imposes transparency in fares announced to passengers. It addresses shortcomings in the legal framework for the Single Aviation market in order to enhance its efficient working.
“The liberalisation of air transport is a European success story: citizens enjoy more travel opportunities and lower fares than ever before. We want to consolidate this success by removing all restrictions to the free provision of air services and ensuring fair competition between airlines”, said Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of transport. “Citizens must enjoy the benefits of the Single Market and have the possibility for more choice and quality. They must be able to easily compare fares between airlines”, he added.
The liberalisation of air transport in the EU, initiated a decade ago, has been a great success. Air transport in Europe has experienced unprecedented expansion at affordable fares. The number of airlines has risen and there has been a general increase in the amount of traffic and competition on routes. Since the full liberalisation in 1997, the number of routes has increased by more than 60% : more cities are covered, including in remote regions. The emergence of new competitors made prices go down dramatically on many routes: today it is generally cheaper to travel by air and more and more European citizens can afford it. These developments contributed widely to economic growth and the creation of direct and indirect jobs.
This huge success must be consolidated. Difficulties remain due to the inconsistent application of the third package across the Member States. This can create restrictions on intra-Community air services that distort the level-playing field and limit competition. Furthermore, passengers do not always reap the full benefits of the Single Market because of unclear information on fares or pricing that discriminates based on residence. The new proposed regulation tackles all these issues.
 Directive 2005/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2005 concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market and amending Council Directive 84/450/EEC, Directives 97/7/EC and 2002/65 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council (Unfair Commercial Practices Directive)
 Regulation (EEC) No 2407/92 on licensing of air carriers (Official Journal L240 of 24.08.1992, p.1), Regulation (EEC) No 2408/92 on access for Community carriers to intra-Community air routes (OJ L240 of 24.08.1192, p.8) and Regulation (EEC) No 2409/92 on fares and rates for air services (OJ L240 of 24.08.1992, p. 15)