The European Parliament is being urged to increase competition in the ground handling market in an effort to benefit airlines and increase the quality of services for passengers.

The call comes from the Association of European Airlines, the European Regions Airline Association and the International Air Carrier Association.

The three bodies want MEPs to vote in favour of ground handling regulation in plenary session on the Airport Package, which takes place on December Wednesday (December 12).

The proposed regulation is intended to increase the number of ground handling companies – both third party (specialised ground handling companies) and self-handlers (an airline or airport’s own ground handlers).

The European Parliament’s transport and tourism committee rejected the new regulation so airlines are now looking to the entire Parliament to “accept the logic” of their case, and support the new legislation.

A joint statement from the three associations said: “A further opening of the ground handling market is vital for getting better quality and efficiency in ground handling services at EU airports. Increasing the competition among providers will help to drive down costs for operators and most importantly, increase the quality of services for our passengers.

“If the European Union is serious about a fully open and competitive air transport sector, then a gradual opening must take place across the whole industry. We have seen the benefits of opening up the air carriers’ market and this should be continued within other areas of the sector too.

“We cannot continue protecting existing monopolies so we urge all MEPs not to waste this important opportunity to help improve ground handling services across Europe.”