On 3 March 2022, the European Commission launched a public consultation for the revision of the Air Services Regulation. Until 26 May 2022, any interested person is invited to submit comments on the problems this initiative aims to resolve, the possible objectives of the revision of the Regulation, as well as the possible measures envisaged to resolve the problems identified.
The European Commission is currently reviewing Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 September 2008 on common rules for the operation of air services in the Community ("Air Services Regulation"). This revision is part of the drive to make aviation more sustainable, smarter, more resilient and socially responsible.
As a reminder, following the liberalisation of air transport, the Air Services Regulation establishes common rules for air services in the EU, including requirements for operating licences, the freedom to provide services and how prices should be displayed to consumers.
The Commission published on 9 July 2019 an assessment of the Air Services Regulation, particularly in the light of EU environmental policies. Indeed, the air services sector is now facing new challenges. In this evaluation, the Commission found that the Air Services Regulation has been successful in consolidating the EU internal market for air services and has thus brought significant benefits to consumers, airlines, airports and aircrew, all of whom have benefited from increased opportunities to develop through new routes, new business models, a wider range of fares and better overall service quality for consumers.
In addition, the review identified a limited number of areas for improvement to ensure a better functioning of the internal market for air services, such as decarbonisation and smarter, more resilient and socially responsible digitalisation - these objectives being set at EU level in the "European Green Deal" and the "Smart and Sustainable Mobility Strategy".
As part of this review, the Commission concluded that a revision of the Air Services Regulation had become necessary.
On 9 December 2020, in its Communication on the "Sustainable and Intelligent Mobility Strategy - putting European transport on track for the future", the Commission confirmed its intention to review the Air Services Regulation. This Communication aimed in particular to support the modernisation efforts undertaken in each mode of transport in order to offer EU citizens smart, sustainable and quality connectivity at affordable and transparent prices.
In this context, the European Commission has therefore invited all interested parties to submit their comments on this issue.
At this stage, the Commission has identified the following issues:
The financial capacity and resilience of airlines.
During the COVID-19 crisis, many otherwise profitable airlines faced a dramatic fall in revenues and had to increase their capital levels in order to weather the crisis. As part of its impact assessment, the Commission will examine the need for possible changes to ensure that EU airlines can continue to have adequate access to capital while safeguarding the EU's strategic autonomy (taking into account existing and future tools at EU level for foreign investment), respecting social rights and promoting the green transition within the European aviation sector.
Insufficient resilience of the regulatory framework for air services.
The COVID-19 crisis revealed some problems with the existing emergency procedure for public service obligations in the event of sudden traffic disruption. Although national authorities can take measures to restrict or ban flights to deal with sudden problems in a short-term emergency situation, their possibilities are limited if the crisis lasts more than 14 days and creates a heavy procedural burden for these authorities and for the Commission.
The existing legal framework is not sufficiently aligned with the current policy objectives defined in the Sustainable and Intelligent Mobility Strategy in terms of promoting sustainable and socially responsible connectivity.
Please find below the link to the public consultation: