Ground handling at Community airports
Directive 96/67/EC on access to the groundhandling market at Community airports
WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE DIRECTIVE?
The ground-handling* services at European Union (EU) airports where access is being granted include those that enable airlines to carry out air-transport activities (taxi guidance, cleaning, refuelling, baggage services, etc.).
The directive applies to all EU airports open to commercial traffic whose annual traffic is not less than 2 million passenger movements or 50,000 tonnes of cargo.
The managing body of an airport*, the airport user* or the supplier of ground-handling services* must, under the supervision of the designated auditor, rigorously separate the accounts of their ground-handling activities from the accounts of their other activities.
In parallel, the EU country:
must set up, for each of the airports concerned, a committee of representatives of airport users to represent users’ interests;
may require that suppliers of ground-handling services be established within the EU and may limit the number of suppliers authorised to provide categories of ground-handling services such as baggage handling, ramp handling, fuel and oil handling, cargo and mail handling;
may reduce to two the number of users able to provide self-handling for ground-handling services such as baggage handling, ramp handling, fuel and oil handling, cargo and mail handling;
may benefit from exemptions (limited in time) where at an airport specific constraints of available space or capacity make it impossible to open up the market and/or implement self-handling;
may under certain conditions reserve for one body the management of the centralised infrastructures which cannot be divided up or the cost of which does not allow for duplication. In parallel, subject to certain conditions, EU countries may grant exemptions to airports where specific constraints make it impossible to open up the market and/or implement self-handling to the degree provided for in the directive;
may oblige the supplier chosen at an airport to also operate on islands that are part of the territory of the EU country;
may subject the activity of suppliers of ground-handling services to the requirement to obtain a licence issued by a public authority that is independent of the airport in order to guarantee safety, security, environmental protection and compliance with social legislation;
must take the necessary measures to ensure that suppliers of ground-handling services and airport users wishing to self-handle have access to airport installations – where access to these installations is subject to a fee, the fee shall be determined according to relevant, objective, transparent and non-discriminatory criteria;
may adopt, subject to the other provisions of EU law, the necessary measures to ensure the protection of workers’ rights and respect for the environment.
FROM WHEN DOES THE DIRECTIVE APPLY?
It has applied since 14 November 1996 and had to become law in the EU countries by 25 October 1997.
This directive provided for a gradual implementation schedule according to whether self-handling services or third-party handling services were involved. From 1 January 2001, the directive applies to any airport located on the territory of a EU country at which the annual traffic is not less than 2 million passenger movements or 50,000 tonnes of cargo.
For more information, see:
Ground-handling: covers a wide variety of services required by airlines in order to operate flights. These services include areas such as maintenance, fuel and freight handling. Ground-handling also covers services like passenger check-in, catering, baggage handling and transport within the airport itself.
Managing body of the airport: the body responsible for administrating and managing airport infrastructures and supervising and coordinating the activities carried out by different operators.
Airport user: natural or legal person carrying passengers, mail or cargo by air.
Supplier of ground-handling services: natural or legal person providing third parties with one or more categories of ground-handling services.
Council Directive 96/67/EC of 15 October 1996 on access to the groundhandling market at Community airports (OJ L 272, 25.10.1996, pp. 36-45)
Successive amendments to Council Directive 96/67/EC have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.
last update 28.02.2020