Airlines complain over handling monopolies

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The Independent Online
SEVERAL airlines - including British Airways, SAS, KLM and Air France - have complained to the European Commission about alleged abuse of ground-handling monopolies at some European airports.

BA's complaint concerned abuse of monopoly power at the Frankfurt, Hamburg and Madrid airports. Some airlines are also thought to have complained about Milan.

A BA spokeswoman said: 'We believe that we need more competition and liberalisation in ground handling to give us a choice and enable us to reduce costs.'

She said that the airline could reduce handling costs by a fifth if it were allowed to shop around.

KLM said that foreign airlines could pay up to 50 per cent more at airports with handling monopolies than at those allowing competition.

BA said it was looking to the Commission to issue draft regulations as soon as possible to ensure that competition in handling rapidly became the norm.

However, authorities at Frankfurt airport rejected the criticism. A spokesman said international carriers flying into Europe had choice already, as a number of international airports were in close proximity.

Efficiency would suffer if outside companies or the airlines were to operate ground facilities, he said. 'We guarantee a connecting time of 45 minutes. If ground traffic increased in terms of the number of (ground handling) vehicles, we could no longer guarantee 45 minutes.'

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