Brussels, 18 March 2010
Poland fully opens up its 'airside' ground handling market in response to Commission action
Poland has adopted new legislation providing for the full opening-up of its 'airside' ground handling market. The legislation has been drawn up in response to infringement proceedings started by the European Commission against Poland for its failure to fully open up the ground handling market at Warsaw-Okecie airport. Since the new legislation is now in force, the Commission has decided to discontinue the infringement proceedings today.
The European Union has opened up the ground handling services market at airports, which includes the checking-in of passengers, baggage handling and the refuelling of aircraft, under a directive adopted in 19961. However, for four defined categories of ground handling2 ('airside' categories), the directive allows Member States to limit the opening-up of the market to a maximum number of suppliers for each category. This limitation is subject to compliance with a number of criteria, in particular as regards the suppliers' independence (at least one supplier must be independent of the dominant company at the airport and the company which manages the airport), and the way in which suppliers are selected (there must be a transparent tendering procedure).
The Commission took the view that the situation at Warsaw-Okecie airport was not in conformity with the directive. The rules transposing the directive in Poland provided for a limitation on the opening-up of the market as regards the number of suppliers and for tenders for their selection. However, no tenders had been launched despite the fact that the directive entered into force in 2004. In addition, the independence criteria laid down in the directive were not met by the authorised suppliers.
As a result of the Commission's action, Poland has amended its legislation transposing Directive 96/67/EC: the new text3, which was published in the Polish Official Journal on 3 June 2009, provides for the full opening-up of the ground handling market (the number of suppliers for the four 'airside' categories is now no longer limited by default and no tender is now necessary). All European ground handling suppliers can now apply to assist airlines serving Warsaw-Okecie airport.
The latest information on infringement proceedings for all Member States can be found at:
 Directive 96/67/EC.
 The categories are: ramp handling (marshalling aircraft, loading and unloading food and beverages, etc.), baggage handling, freight and mail handling as regards the physical handling of freight and mail between the air terminal and the aircraft, and fuel and oil handling.
"Rozporządzenie Ministra Infrastruktury z dnia 25 maja 2009 r. w sprawie obsługi naziemnej w portach lotniczych": Decree of the Ministry of Infrastructure of 25 May 2009 on groundhandling at airports.