The Total Package? On the New Common Rules for Air Transport in the European Union
Issues in Aviation Law and Policy, Vol. 8, No. 1, p. 105, 2008
16 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2009
Date Written: December 1, 2008
After nearly twenty years and three "packages" of regulations, air transport liberalization remains an unfinished project in the European Union. The so-called "third package," which came into effect in January 1993, granted unprecedented market freedoms to EU carriers over their rates and routes. It also was intended to harmonize licensing regulations across Member States. Despite a host of successes, including more routes, lower fares, and increased competition, the failure of Member States to consistently apply the regulations - coupled with residual restrictions left unaddressed fifteen years ago - have kept a number of market distortions in place. National authorities throughout the EU still have been able to engage in protectionism by manipulating licensing requirements and denying non-nationals access to third country routes. Further complications with regard to rules governing wet leasing and pricing also have come to the fore since the third package, prompting the European Commission to issue a comprehensive proposal for the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union to revise and consolidate the common rules for the operation of air transport services.
This article examines the common rules proposed by the Commission and the regulation finally adopted by the Parliament and the Council which, at the time of this writing, is awaiting entry into force. First, it assesses the tailoring of the proposals for their purported end, noting where the Commission attempted to expand its own powers to monitor and regulate the air transport sector. Second, this article draws attention to the checks placed on the Commission's regulatory ambitions by comparing select proposals with the adopted rules. Finally, it assesses the prospects for the common rules to remove remaining market distortions and enhance consumer benefits.
Keywords: aviation, european community, common rules, european commission, single market
JEL Classification: K10, K20, K30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation