The European Commission laid out plans Wednesday to tackle skyrocketting airport fees charged to airlines, and ultimately to passengers, by making the system more transparent and setting up independent regulators.
With airport fees on the rise, EU Tranport Commissioner Jacques Barrot acknowledged that recently there had often been "a conflictual climate between airlines and airports".
He said that stepping up transparency on the one hand and introducing regulators to referee disputes on the other would create a "double system that should allow for fee costs to be moderate".
The airport fees, which make up four to eight percent of airlines' operating costs, are paid for take-offs and landings, parking, security and passenger handling.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), 15 of the 25 most expensive airports are in Europe, with Paris, Frankfurt and Athens airports among the top.
Airlines are angry that airport fees have taken off in recent years while they have struggled to cut costs.
Barrot said the independent regulator system was already in place and working in Britain and that governments should not be handed the role because they "sometimes favour one company or might want to privatise an airport... and to boost its revenues".
The Commission came up with its proposals only after "extremely thorough talks" with airport authorities and airlines, Barrot stressed.
The airlines argued that many European airports had substantially increased their charges in recent years, and while they themselves had continued to offer low cost flights in a cut-throat industry.
The airports argue that the rising charges are forced on them by the need to adapt to accommodate increasing air traffic and meet new security requirements in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States.