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December 22, 2010

European Commission VP Blasts Airport Snow Preparedness, Calls Disruption “Unacceptable”

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Written by: BNO News
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European Commission Vice President Siim Kallas has expressed concern regarding the airport infrastructure in Europe as extreme weather disrupts holiday season air travel.

Ryanair EI-DLN 737

Ryanair’s EI-DLN 737 gets deiced in Dublin. (Photo by benarent)

Kallas said the level of disruption to travel across Europe caused by severe snow is “unacceptable and should not happen again,” adding that safety of travel comes first and foremost, “so there can be no compromise on that front.”

European Union Member States are responsible for contingency planning and extreme snow and extreme weather conditions are and have to be taken into account. Kallas said the European Commission is monitoring the situation and is in constant contact with airlines, airports, rail operators and national authorities who are responsible for passenger rights.

“In recent days, I have become increasingly concerned about the problems relating to the infrastructure available to airlines – airports and ground handling – during this severe period of snow,” Kallas underlined.

“It seems at this stage that this is a ‘weak link’ in a chain which, under pressure, is contributing to severe disruption,” he said, stating that he intends to convene a meeting with airport representatives in the coming days to ask for further explanation and to analyze what is necessary to make sure they would be able to operate more effectively in the similar situations in the future.

“Airports must ‘get serious’ about planning for this kind of severe weather conditions,” Kallas added. “We have seen in recent years that snow in Western Europe is not such an exceptional circumstance. Better preparedness, in line with what is done in Northern Europe is not an optional extra, it must be planned for and with the necessary investment, particularly on the side of the airports.”

Kallas called for appropriate service levels and minimum quality requirements by infrastructure providers such as airports and rail infrastructure, while putting the European Commission open to support the terms of regulation on minimum service requirements for the region’s airports.

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