CAA proposes major changes and brings good news to London passengers

This week, the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) was the leader in goods news for airline passengers as they proposed major changes to the way London’s three principal airports – Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted – charge airlines for using the airports.  Effectively, airlines will be charged a lot less by the airports for the 2014-19 period, in comparison to the 2009-14 period, which will lead to a limiting of fare rises passed onto passengers.

Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted are regulated by the CAA and their proposals to cap the amount airports can impose on airlines in the form of take-off and landing fees is a positive step for airlines, and a bonus for their campaign against excessive charges.  The CAA’s proposal caps airline charges to the RPI rate of inflation, minus 1.3%; significantly lower than the figure Heathrow are currently paying, RPI plus 7.5%!  It is also much less than the figure originally proposed by Heathrow’s bosses for the 2014-19 period – passengers would have seen prices increase to £19.33 for the remainder of 2013, and as high as £27.30 for 2018/19!

Gatwick’s system will be slightly different and more flexible – the airport ultimately wants complete deregulation – although the system will be underpinned by a CAA licence.  However, the new system needs collaboration between airlines and the airport and as yet, “the airport has not yet made acceptable proposals along these lines,,” says the CAA.  If this issue doesn’t get resolved, the CAA will cap charges to RPI plus 1% for 2014-19, significantly lower than the price they are currently paying.

Stansted’s regulation proposed by the CAA takes another form, monitoring charges and service quality, ensuring passengers are protected and minimising the burden of regulations on airlines and airports.

Bosses at Gatwick and Heathrow aren’t happy with the CAA’s proposals, with Heathrow stating that they will be studying the proposals in full before responding.  Gatwick has stated that they won’t accept that there is a requirement for an economic licence, and has suggested that RPI plus 1% for the 2014-19 period is “too demanding and based on unrealistic assumptions.”

Surely a reduction in the amount in airlines pay airports will lead to lower fares for passengers, a rise in passenger numbers for all airlines, bringing in higher revenues…  Change is often greeted with caution but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

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