Swissport welcomes EU ground handling proposal: ‘Third licence is the right approach’

Zurich, 1st December, 2011 – Swissport, the world’s leading provider of ground services to the aviation sector, welcomes the European Commission’s proposal for a new Ground Handling Regulation that would require large airports to offer handling licences to a third supplier.

Commenting on the proposal, Juan Jose Andres Alvez, Executive Vice President EMEAA of Swissport, said: “All in all this is a well-balanced proposal. The Commission realised that a complete deregulation of ground handling has many downsides, but also that the status quo of duopolies at some large airports poses major problems. A third licence at large airports is the right approach.”

The EU ground-handling market is currently covered by a directive dating from October 1996 (Directive 96/67/EC), which gradually opened up airport handling services to competition, ensuring that airports above a certain size must allow at least two suppliers for each category of service, and that at least one of these suppliers should be entirely independent of the airport or the dominant air carrier at that airport.

Independent handlers are key to improving quality and safety at Europe’s airports. Swissport, for instance, operates at almost 200 airports worldwide, which allows the company to constantly innovate, improve and benchmark their services. Independent handlers therefore strike the best balance between excellent quality of service and good working conditions.

Alvez added: “We are convinced that such a moderate increase in competition would markedly improve quality of service for passengers and preserve high social standards, offering employees more choice and opportunities.”

However, Swissport would also recommend a more cautious approach with regards to self-handling, as the proposed deregulation can ultimately lead to significant negative consequences for passengers and employees.

“Fully-licensed handlers are the pillars of the airport system,” said Alvez. “They are contractually obliged to support passengers, airlines and airports in case of disruption, such as natural disasters or adverse weather. Self-handlers, by contrast, are not required to fulfil these obligations. We hope that the European Parliament will close this loophole in the interest of consumers.”

Swissport International Ltd provides ground services for around 100 million passengers and 3.2 million tonnes of cargo a year (the latter using 98 warehouses with a total floor area of over 360,000 square metres) on behalf of some 650 client-companies in the aviation sector. With a workforce of around 35,000 personnel, Swissport is active at 177 stations in 36 countries on five continents, and generated consolidated operating revenue of CHF 1.7 billion in 2010. www.swissport.com


Note to editors:

The EU market in ground-handling services is covered by the Directive 96/67/EC dating from October 1996 which gradually opened up the services to competition. This was necessary since the checking-in of passengers, baggage and cargo handling, the provision of catering services, etc. used to be a monopoly at many EU airports, and many airlines complained about the relatively high prices for the services provided and sub-optimal efficiency and service quality.

The Directive essentially stipulates that at the larger EU airports access to the market by suppliers of ground-handling services is free and that for certain categories of services the number of suppliers may be no fewer than two for each category of service. Moreover, at least one of these suppliers should be entirely independent of the airport or the dominant air carrier at that airport. Similar provisions exist with regard to self-handling, which means that airlines provide the services in question for themselves: for these services there should be at least two air carriers admitted.