The first half of 2018 has seen a significant increase in the application of competition law across the EU aviation sector, particularly in respect of abuse of dominance claims. This article summarizes the main developments over the past six months and provides the reader with greater detail of each of these developments.
The first six months of 2018 have seen no less than six authorities being involved in potential abuse of dominance cases (two authorities opening cases and four authorities closing cases – with all but one of the cases involving access conditions to airport infrastructure) and two court judgments being handed down. This highlights the increasing use of competition law arguments by authorities and unhappy current or former airport users and the challenges faced by airport operators when dealing with the managed infrastructure.
The European Commission (‘Commission’) is understood to have initiated an internal review of its own policy when slot divestiture commitments are offered during the EU merger review process. This appears to have arisen as a result of slot congestion at certain airports and the apparent low uptake of slots subject to such commitments.
State aid continues to feature in the aviation sector, but it appears that aid is now being more frequently or successfully deployed by Member States to airports in the form of operating or infrastructure aid.Air and Space Law