UK Government proposals to modernise airport regulation by focusing on the needs of passengers were 'welcomed' yesterday by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as part of the Department for Transport's (DfT) Review of Economic Regulation.
According to the CAA, additional Government proposals to bring in a licensing regime for airport regulation would also be beneficial for passengers. It says this would allow the CAA to respond more rapidly to events as they arise, such as taking action when service quality problems are identified, rather than having to wait for the next quinquennial review.
Welcoming the DfT's proposals on economic regulation, CAA Group Director of Economic Regulation Harry Bush said: ‘Giving the CAA a primary duty to passengers reflects the growing consensus that passengers need to be put at the heart of airport regulation. It is also important to maximise the benefits for passengers from the upcoming sale of Gatwick – and possibly Stansted – by supporting the increase in competition for passengers and airlines with a flexible and clear regulatory framework.
‘The CAA looks forward to engaging with Government, airlines, airports and other stakeholders on these important issues during the consultation period.’
The CAA adds that in carrying out its economic regulatory functions it already recognises the costs faced by airport operators from environmental mitigation initiatives, including for areas such as surface access. The CAA says it welcomes the DfT's consideration of the role of environmental issues in economic regulation, and looks forward to engaging with this debate.
Meanwhile, of particular interest to the travel retail business is the DfT publication of the CAA's advice on improving the through airport passenger experience (see news report above). The CAA submitted proposals following a request from the DfT to research the scope for improving the passenger experience at major UK airports.
The Secretary of State has welcomed the recommendations set out by the CAA, which will see the CAA working with BAA and the airlines at Heathrow to improve joint planning to increase resilience of airport operations. Lessons from the exercise will be read across to Gatwick and Stansted airports.
The CAA's advice was based on research carried out at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Manchester airports and included an extensive passenger survey and discussions with industry stakeholders and passenger representative groups.