The groundhandling services at airports are an important element of aviation. However, they have not been penetrated by the concept of competition to the same extent as the airline industry in general. In 1996 the EU issued a directive on groundhandling services with a view to breaking up the traditionally monopolistic structures at airports. Though partly successful, this failed to remove all obstacles to competition. A liberalized services market would be in the interest of airlines and passengers. With a new regulation, formally proposed in autumn 2011, the European Commission is making a renewed attempt to establish a smoothly functioning market for groundhandling services. This includes pan-European harmonisation of the approval procedures for suppliers of services.
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