Passengers’ needs are to be put first under new measures designed to improve
air passenger experience and the economic regulation of airports, unveiled
today by Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon.
Under the plans, the aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA),
will be given a new primary duty to promote the interests of passengers. Air
passengers will also get a new champion – ‘Passenger Focus’ – who will
represent them as they do for rail and bus users.
The CAA will also be given a new secondary duty to ensure that airports
meet their environmental obligations. The CAA will not be asked to develop
its own environmental policies but will be tasked with ensuring that the
economic regulation of airports is consistent with existing environmental
obligations placed on airports.
Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon said: “I want to put passengers at the heart of how our airports are run – this will help ensure that that we get the most efficient and competitive aviation sector possible.
“The CAA has told us that their current duties lack clarity. They ask them
to further the interests of both airlines and passengers, without saying
who comes first. Today I am removing that lack of clarity – the passenger
must come first.
“Passengers have told us that although they are broadly happy with their
experience of airports, they want things like more seating areas, more toilets,
better flight information and more baggage carousels open at busy times –
these are the exactly the kind of issues that we will expect the CAA to
address in discharging its new duty.”
The new duties are part of a package which is designed to improve the economic
regulation of UK airports. The measures have been developed based on the
recommendations of a panel of independent experts, chaired by professor Martin
Cave, who were appointed in June 2008 to review the economic regulation of
Other proposed measures announced today include:
* A switch to a new licensing regime for larger airports: licensing – which
is common in many regulated industries – allows greater flexibility than the
current system and will enable the CAA to target regulatory activity where
and when it is needed to protect the interests of consumers. There will
be three tiers of license, which place varying levels of control on airports
depending on their market power.
* New and streamlined appeal processes that will improve access to justice
for those effected by regulatory decisions.
* Measures to improve outcomes for consumers by promoting the financial and
operational resilience of airports, including a specific financing duty on
CAA, and new license conditions for larger airports
The measures are subject to a 12-week consultation, which concludes on June 1, 2009.