easyJet has welcomed comments by the European Commission clarifying the relationship between airlines and publicly-owned airports. While the terms of the ruling refer specifically to Ryanair’s arrangements with Charleroi Airport, it is supportive of the low-cost airline industry.
easyJet, which adopts a different business model to Ryanair, believes the Commission’s intention to use this ruling as a basis for uniform guidelines on airport landing charges and tariffs across the EU will help clarify arrangements between airports and airlines - be they low cost, national flag carriers or charter. The ruling also reduces uncertainty and will help many airports, which have recently been discouraged from concluding wholly-legal deals with airlines, such as easyJet.
easyJet supports the Commission’s intention to authorise variations to published tariffs at publicly-owned airports providing the procedure is transparent and does not lead to any discrimination. Similarly it endorses the Commission’s principles that any airport:airline deal should be based on private market investor principle, transparent, open to all airlines and non-discriminatory.
easyJet believes that no airline (traditional, charter or low-cost) should be inhibited from seeking and obtaining differential charges - provided that the charges relate to the cost of provision of the specific services used. This will encourage airport companies to provide infrastructure to match different user requirements as a means of reflecting market needs and, in meetings with the European Commission, has gained assurances that this will a component of forthcoming EU guidelines.
Ray Webster, easyJet Chief Executive, said: “Today’s ruling is good news for Europe’s airlines as it removes a very substantial degree of uncertainty that has been hanging-over European aviation for some time. It also makes a very clear commitment to the development of the low-cost airline sector.
“It should be noted that today’s ruling applies specifically to Ryanair and Charleroi. However, we understand that the Commission will use this ruling as the basis for bringing forward guidelines on the commercial relationship between airlines and publicly-owned airports. We look forward to working with the Commission in the coming months in order to produce the sort of guidelines that will benefit the consumer through further reform and efficiencies at Europe’s airports.
“We are particularly keen to ensure that the Commission does not inhibit any airline (traditional, charter of low-cost) from seeking and obtaining differential charges - provided that the charges relate to the cost of provision of the specific services used. As it currently stands, to apply the same flat-rate at an airport for two airlines using very different quality services constitutes a subsidy from the efficient to the inefficient.
“We also hope that the Commission will avoid taking any steps that strengthen the monopoly power of government-owned airports. Obtaining a competitive regime in airport charges is one of the biggest challenges facing European aviation and the Commission should ensure that any new regime forces airports to become more efficient suppliers to the airline industry. At present, the gulf between competitive privately-owned airports and inefficient publicly-owned airports is excessive and unjustified.”