System "must be modernised" - Matthews
UK airport operator BAA has today (June 8) responded to regulatory reform proposals put forward by the UK Department for Transport (DfT).
In March the DfT released a report calling for more focus on passenger experience with appropriate investment and the creation of an "efficient, flexible and effective" regulator.
The DfT also called for some decisions to be made by "a democratically elected Government". Airports in the UK are regulated by the country's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
"Nobody doubts that a regulatory system put together in the 1980s must be modernised and we take heart from the consensus that has emerged during the consultation process," said BAA in a statement.
Calls to reform current airport regulation came after the decision was taken to break up BAA's hold on the UK's busiest airports (see ABTN news March 19).
Ryanair, labelling BAA a monopoly, welcomed the UK Competition Commission's (CC) March ruling that BAA sell three of its seven airports: Gatwick, Stansted and either Glasgow or Edinburgh.
Ryanair joined calls for regulatory reform, after claiming that the CAA had failed to prevent a BAA monopoly.
BAA's ceo Colin Matthews said: "The Government's wish to ensure that passengers are not disrupted in the event that an airport encounters financial difficulty is understandable.
"But the benefits of introducing a new regime must outweigh its costs and we will be asking Government to ensure that regulated airports be allowed to recover any such costs.
"We encourage the Department to press ahead with its plans to reform the regulatory regime as soon as possible.
"This will minimise the period of uncertainty that is associated with the current consultation and enable BAA to finance its on-going programme of investment efficiently and get on with the task of delivering real improvements for passengers."
London Gatwick, one of the airports ordered to be sold, responded to the DfT's proposals separately, the first time it has answered major policy consultation independent of its current owner.
"With the sale of the second busiest UK airport ongoing, it makes clear that, while its response represents the views of Gatwick Airport's management team, the views of a future owner may also need to be taken into consideration," said a statement from Gatwick.
Andy Flower, Gatwick Airport's managing director, said: "Our future strategy is focused on growing the business by delivering a consistently high quality of service and facilities to airlines and passengers.
"We have made it clear that we believe airport regulation has been ready for a fundamental review for some time and now is the right time to develop a framework that is fit for the 21st century.
"We strongly support a future framework that puts the passenger experience at its heart and a regulatory regime that provides greater competition between airports in the south-east.
"The DfT's proposals to change the regulatory framework come at a crucial time for Gatwick as we enter a new era in the airport's history."
www.baa.com www.gatwickairport.com www.dft.gov.uk