European Commission - Press release
Air transport: Commission requests Poland and Greece to comply fully with rules on airport charges
Brussels, 22 March 2012 - The European Commission has today requested Poland and Greece to complete the steps necessary to implement EU rules to ensure that airport charges are transparent and non-discriminatory. Following these rules is important to avoid passengers in the EU paying more than they should for air travel. The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion under EU infringement procedures. If these Member States fail to inform the Commission within two months of the remaining measures taken to ensure full compliance with the law, the Commission could refer the case to the EU Court of Justice.
The EU rules
The airport charges directive, adopted in March 2009, requires Member States to put in place laws to ensure that airport charges levied on airlines at the main EU airports are calculated in accordance with the principles of transparency, consultation and non-discrimination as set out in policies agreed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). These charges are paid by airlines for the use of airport runways and include passenger charges to cover the cost of providing airport terminal infrastructure. Airport charges make up a significant portion of airlines' costs and are ultimately borne by the travelling public as they are included in the price of a ticket. The directive states that airports must consult airlines over their charges and provide information as to the costs incurred in providing the services for which these charges are payable. In addition, Member States are obliged to designate an independent authority with the power to adjudicate in disputes over charges involving airports and airlines.
The reason for today's action
Poland and Greece have to this date only partly implemented the directive, even though they were required to implement it fully by 15 March 2011. Poland, for instance, still has to put into place consultations on charges between airport users and airports and requirements on the transparency of information on airports' costs as they relate to airport charges. Greece has nominated a national supervisory authority but still has to transpose most of the operative parts of the directive necessary for the directive to have real effect.
To date, 22 Member States have indicated full transposition of the directive and the Commission is pursuing three further Member States which have failed to transpose any part of the directive (see IP/11/1410 of 24/11/2011). The Commission is continuing its assessment of the national laws which have been notified to ensure that they meet the standards set out in the directive.
The practical effect of non-implementation
Failing to properly implement the directive could mean that passengers are paying more than they should for air travel, both within the EU and for long-haul destinations departing from EU airports.
The next steps
The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion under EU infringement procedures. If Poland and Greece fail to inform the Commission within two months of measures taken to ensure full compliance with EU law, the Commission could refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
More information on infringement procedures: MEMO/12/200
Helen Kearns (+32 2 298 76 38)
Dale Kidd (+32 2 295 74 61)