Eurocontrol is expecting opposition from airport operators to recommended changes to its air navigational charge structure, which include separating approach charges from other airport fees, due to be published later this month.

Flight International has seen a copy of initial draft recommendations for the changes, which will be incorporated into Single European Sky (SES) regulations. Eurocontrol is to deliver its recommendations to the European Commission this week, and expects them to be published and opened to formal consultation next month.

Eberhard Söhnle, Eurocontrol's central route charges office's head of economic and regulatory affairs, expects the separation of charges for air navigation services made available at airports from other landing charges to be "one of the more contentious" proposals.

"Although they did not provide much input during informal stakeholder discussions, there could be resistance from airport operators to the prospect of charge separation," says Söhnle. The single till concept, where commercial revenue subsidises user charges, would have to be evaluated, he adds.

Eurocontrol is pushing for the change in a bid to harmonise approach navigational services once SES regulations are in force. Procedures differ widely across Europe as to when airport ATC takes over from the en-route air navigation service provider (ANSP). The charging structure for approach and departure services also differs widely across Europe, which is incompatible with the gate-to-gate air traffic management (ATM) aims of the SES, says Söhnle. Smaller aerodromes may be exempted from SES rules on an air navigation services charging scheme, he adds.

Eurocontrol collects and distributes en-route navigational charges on behalf of national ANSPs and these changes are the first since the system was introduced in 1971. Other changes proposed in Eurocontrol's recommendations include the possible modulation of charges - opposed by smaller carriers - that would allow ANSPs to charge different rates at peak periods or over congested areas. Eurocontrol would also like to see the joint financing of projects designed to free airspace, such as the relocation of military facilities so that some no-fly zones can be opened to civil traffic.

The SES regulation could also give Eurocontrol the power to enforce the rules on charging as well as giving it power over debt collection, through denial of services and impounding non-payers' aircraft.



Source: Flight International