Smith Concerned At Scottish Impact Of EU-Wide Airport Charging Rules

15 January 2008
SNP MEP Alyn Smith has welcomed proposals for a common EU regime for airport charges, though in so doing expressed concern that the new rules must not impact upon smaller regional and island airports.

Mr Smith supported a compromise which would see only two airports in Scotland being covered by the new rules, Edinburgh and Glasgow, as an introductory measure. It remains to be seen if the member state governments will adopt this compromise.

The rules aim to ensure fair play in the airport industry and ensure that no individual airports take advantage of a dominant position in the market. Affected airports will have to comply with common rules on the way airport charges are collected, provision of information and transparency.

Speaking after the package was approved Mr Smith said:

"Air travel to places like Inverness, Barra, Lerwick and Kirkwall is not a luxury, and even if the compromise is implemented the knock on effect of new charges in Edinburgh and Glasgow will impact on vital links to the Islands. The overall aim of the package is fine, but we must watch it carefully."

In explaining his vote Mr Smith added:

"Mr President, while this report has a number of good ideas on making airport charges more transparent and bringing for the first time environmental considerations into the calculation, we must, as ever, be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water.

"In my constituency Scotland we have dozens of small airports and air travel is not a luxury it is a necessity serving fragile communities. I have therefore supported amendments to exempt airports in outermost regions from the new regime and look forward to the production of a framework that takes account of the fragile nature of many communities.

"These rules still need to be negotiated amongst EU governments, but I am hopeful that we will be able to avoid unnecessary burdens for smaller airports serving already fragile communities."