- Planned reduction in ground handling licenses from seven to three will restrict competition.
- Rash implementation puts stable operations for busy summer period at risk.
For the second time in the past few months Italian authorities surprise travellers and airlines with needless orders. ENAC, the Italian Civil Aviation Authority, plans to reduce the number of ground handling licenses at Fiumicino from seven to three. Today, A4E has sent a letter to ENAC requesting to rescind this decision.
“This is an unacceptable restriction of the provision of ground handling services at Fiumicino airport. It will restrict competition, meaning that service quality will suffer and costs increase, with consequent damage to the interests of passengers. We can see no material justification for an artificial restriction of competition in this way. Its effect will simply be to increase the cost of travel to and within Italy, with damaging effects on economic growth and jobs,” said Thomas Reynaert, Managing Director at Airlines for Europe A4E.
A4E is also concerned about the timing of this restriction since there is an indication to reduce the number of licenses already in mid-May. This gives airlines insufficient time to change handlers and ensure that they have stable operations for the busy summer period. Among the A4E members there are three airlines with operating bases at Fiumicino – Norwegian, Ryanair and Vueling – and several other airlines with significant operations at Rome’s largest airport.
“It would be unfortunate if a regulatory decision that could have easily been avoided leads to more disruption this summer. Consequently we strongly urge that the European Commission’s focus on market access for ground handling at EU airports and ensuring a level playing field between ground handlers will become a priority,” he added.
A4E is focusing on supporting the competitiveness of European aviation, in particular by addressing monopoly costs in the airline supply chain.
Already in January this year the Italian government has missed an opportunity stimulating more economic activity and jobs by increasing the taxes on passengers charged at Italian airports by €2.50. A4E is opposed to unreasonable taxes on aviation and has called the increase in the Italian passenger tax a disappointing step in the wrong direction. Some airlines have already taken action and positioned their airplanes at airports outside of Italy which is damaging the Italian economy and puts the tourism sector at risk.
Airlines for Europe (A4E) is Europe’s new and largest airline association, based in Brussels. Launched in January 2016, the association consists of Air France KLM, easyJet, Finnair, International Airlines Group (IAG), Lufthansa Group, Norwegian and Ryanair, and plans to grow further. With more than 500 million passengers on board each year, A4E members account for more than half of the continent’s passenger journeys, operating more than 2,300 airplanes and generating EUR 93 billion in annual turnover.