Air passengers will be hit by a decision today to alter what airlines can be charged for using one of the UK’s busiest airports, according to low-cost airline Ryanair.
Just three UK airports – Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted – are “regulated”, in that the amounts the airports’ bosses can charge airlines for using them is capped by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Ryanair said today that a CAA final decision on regulation for the three airports for the five years from April 2014 has revealed that Stansted is now being deregulated.
The budget Irish carrier said this decision would mean Stansted would increase charges resulting in “yet more damage to UK consumers and competition”.
Ryanair said the CAA was “falsely claiming” that Stansted did not have substantial market power and that therefore there was no need to further regulate charges at the Essex airport.
Ryanair said: “Against evidence and its own earlier findings, the CAA now inexplicably claims that airlines are able to exert buyer power on Stansted in circumstances where Stansted was allowed by the CAA to double its charges in 2007, which caused a five-year, 27% traffic collapse at Stansted while Heathrow and Gatwick were growing.
“Even easyJet moved flights to Southend to avoid Stansted’s high charges.”
The budget airline went on: “Today’s deregulation decision by the CAA will allow Stansted to increase charges in future and will result in yet more damage to UK consumers and competition.
“This decision confirms yet again that the CAA’s regulatory regime is ’inadequate’, as previously found by the Competition Commission in its 2009 decision to break up the BAA (formerly British Airports Authority) airport monopoly.”
Ryanair’s legal and regulatory affairs director Juliusz Komorek added: “Today’s decision is an example of the CAA’s regulatory failure which will again harm consumers as Stansted will be able to further increase airport charges whenever it wishes, without any reference to competitive price levels.
“Effective regulation with aggressive price caps is the only way to ensure that consumers are protected and that Stansted can grow its traffic on a sustained basis. Ryanair condemns the CAA’s continuing failure to effectively regulate Stansted.”
Ryanair has been a constant critic of the CAA and the airport charges it sets.