What do you do if your roof is leaking and your walls and floors in the house are getting soaked? You look for the hole and then you repair it as soon as possible. The current European Air Services regulation is full of holes, which are harmful to crew and many airlines. These holes have been known for a long time and yet it looks like the European Commission might put repairs again on hold.
The Air Services regulation 1008/2008 is one of the most important European laws that determine how European aviation functions. Since 1987, several sets of EU regulatory measures have gradually turned protected national aviation markets into a competitive single market for air transport.
Since then, the aviation landscape has changed considerably while the regulation hasn't evolved in parallel. Some effects of this outdated legislation are the enormous growth of atypical employment such as bogus self-employment and zero-hour contracts, and legal uncertainty for aircrews due to the lack of an 'operational base' definition.
Since 2006, multiple studies, impact assessments, evaluations, and consultations on the current regulation by the European Commission have consistently resulted in the same conclusion: The current Air Services Regulation is obsolete and urgently needs fixing to protect aircrews. Time to repair the roof, you would say?
However, we still lack clarity what the European Commission intends to do with the leaking roof. Would they patch up a few things, or completely renew it? And when?
The silence on this matter doesn’t predict anything good. If the European Commission doesn’t soon publish a revision proposal, it will come too late for the co-decision process to be completed during this Commission and EU Parliament term. And the next European Commission and Parliament are not bound to complete anything started by the current decision-makers in Brussels. The many problems which have accumulated over time in Europe's aviation, especially on the social side, risk remaining unaddressed. The clock is ticking, the roof is leaking.
by Otjan de Bruijn, ECA President, Captain Boeing 777