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Brussels, 8 October 2009

Access to the groundhandling market: Commission sends letter of formal notice to Hungary

The European Commission has decided to send Hungary a letter of formal notice to remind the Hungarian authorities of the need to comply with the obligations incumbent on them under Directive 96/67/EC on access to the groundhandling market at Community airports.

The Commission considers that the decisions taken by the Hungarian authorities to limit the number of service providers and carriers which can carry out their own groundhandling operations at Budapest International Airport without organising a selection procedure is contrary to the provisions of Article 11 of the Directive. It therefore takes the view that these restrictions have no legal force and cannot be used to restrict market entry for service providers or oust incumbents. In particular, the Commission noted that one of the main incumbent service providers at Budapest Airport had recently been refused access to this market; it was ousted for reasons which, on the face of it, would seem to violate both Community law and the relevant national rules.

The Hungarian authorities have two months to comment on the letter of formal notice and must take steps to ensure compliance with Community law at Budapest Airport.

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