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Ground handlers welcome EASA’s proposed regulations

Published on: 18 January 2024

This week, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) announced regulatory proposals for ground handling operations at EU airports – a move that ground handlers have praised with “excitement”.

For some time ground handlers and service providers have called on EASA to introduce regulations in order to cut the red tape and “bureaucracy” caused by the number of audits they, alongside aircraft operators, have to complete.

EASA’s regulations will aim to ensure greater safety and improve cybersecurity, as well as consistency of all the actions that happen on the ground before and after a flight.

Fabio Gamba, director general of the Airport Services Association (ASA), which represents ground service providers worldwide, welcomed the news with “excitement”.

Speaking on The Aviation Briefing, EVA International’s newly launched podcast, he said: “This puts us on par with the airport and aerodrome operators.

“We’re always the ones sandwiched between the two [sets of] regulations of airports and airline operators – and are always told to do things ‘this or that way’.

“Unfortunately I think we have recognised that the industry, to a certain extent, failed to create its own standards [up until now], despite the fact that there are standards out there that are being recognised, but [the industry has] failed to implement them.

“We see [EASA’s] regulations as putting an end [to this].”

The director general added that he wants to see greater global standardisation of ground handling rules in order to reduce “bureaucracy” and ensure efficiency and safety.

Warwick Brady, president and CEO of Swissport, joined Gamba in welcoming EASA’s proposals and calling for global standardisation of regulatory requirements.

He told Airside: “Swissport welcomes EASA’s proposal for the implementation of ground handling regulations across Europe.

“The regulations will ensure a better standard of operations and will help reinforce the critical role that ground handling plays in aviation safety.

“Together with EASA and ASA, we must make sure the regulations provide a level playing field for ground handlers to deliver safe and sustainable operations that support the wider ESG agenda of the aviation industry.

“We now encourage other national authorities to implement the same requirements to deliver a truly global set of standards.”

The new regulation would aim to ensure an efficient approach on the oversight of ground handling organisations by “competent authorities” [civil aviation authorities], therefore hoping to “avoid multiple verifications of the same activities and organisational aspects and gradually reduce the significant number of audits performed mostly by aircraft operators”, according to EASA.

The body said that, this way, organisations should be able to better allocate their resources from auditing to managing the safety of their operations.

The regulation would require ground handling organisations and self-handling aircraft operators performing commercial air transport operations to self-declare that they comply with the EU requirements.

Written by William Hallowell

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