Ryanair says the Civil Aviation Authority”s (CAA) ”complete failure to regulate” is the reason the BAA”s monopoly continues to ”ride roughshod over the reasonable interests of users and passengers.”
The Authority”s ”monopoly abuse” has resulted, the carrier says, in a doubling of passenger charges since April, a decline in passenger traffic and ”appalling” security queues, while boosting BAA profits.
Ryanair also says the CAA refused to intervene in BAA plans ”to impose a ”4bn gold-plated Taj Mahal development for a second runway and terminal when such facilities should be provided sensibly and efficiently for one quarter of the cost."
”CAA regulation of the BAA monopoly has utterly failed and is doing untold damage to the air transport industry, passenger needs and the British economy,” said Ryanair”s head of regulatory Affairs, Jim Callaghan.
”We call on this review to recognise, as the Office of Fair Trading has already done in its referral of the BAA monopoly to the Competition Commission, that CAA regulation is a sham which has failed to control the price gouging monopoly.”
The Stansted Airline Consultative Committee”s chairman, David O'Brien, said: ”The CAA has allowed BAA to ignore the unanimous requests of users for the provision of low-cost, efficient facilities at Stansted.”
A CAA spokesman told ABTN: ”There is an ongoing full review of the CAA and Ryanair is concentrating on how we set price caps. The Department for Transport will have the final say on that, and will report in three or four months.”
The CAA said its decision to recommend that Stansted becomes unregulated ” currently Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Stansted are designated for regulation ” is because the market has moved on.
”We don”t believe in over-regulation, where market forces can do that more efficiently,” said the spokesman. ”Regulation and designation costs a lot of money. The reality is most airlines at Stansted have been paying well below the maximum price cap. For many years operators were attracted to the airport by heavy discounts, so perhaps time”s catching up with them.
”We”re between a rock and a hard place ” airlines want cheaper landing fees; carriers and passengers want cheaper, improved facilities, and airport operators want profits. But these kind of improvements in services need to be paid for somehow. As a regulator it”s quite a difficult job trying to balance it all out.”
Regarding Stansted”s second runway, the spokesman said it was a government decision involving planning laws, environmental lobbies and other factors. Nothing has been decided yet.
An independent review into the CAA began in October last year, when Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly said: ”The CAA is recognised throughout the world for its expertise, which is demonstrated by the UK's exemplary aviation safety record. However, the aviation world has changed considerably since 1971 when the CAA was established, and this review will ensure that the organisation is ready to take on the challenges of the future.”