Clause 64 - Review etc of airport operation services

Part of Civil Aviation Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 6th March 2012.

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Photo of Nigel Mills Nigel Mills Conservative, Amber Valley 4:00 pm, 6th March 2012

This wide-ranging clause sets out that the CAA must

“keep under review the provision of airport operation services in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, and…collect information about…such services…with a view to facilitating the carrying out of its functions under this Chapter.”

This is all about competition. It would help if the Minister clarified exactly what she expects the CAA to do, and what it is allowed to do. Does she expect it to produce a detailed report on the level of airport capacity in the south-east and on whether there is a need for a  new airport—or, heaven forbid, a new runway at any of those airports? To provide competition for passengers in their choice of airlines, routes and airports, there may be a need for more infrastructure.

Does the Minister expect that the CAA could do a review on whether regional variations in air passenger duty could aid competition by diverting traffic elsewhere in the country? That is another idea suggested to us by various people outside the Committee. Those all seem pretty reasonable things that the CAA could review and advise Ministers on to enhance competition or help to develop competition in the air travel market.

I am not sure that the Minister would envisage the CAA generally wandering off, doing things off its own bat and commissioning huge numbers of reports on various things that might or might not contradict the policy of the Government at the time. It would be helpful if she clarified exactly what the Government intend the CAA to do, and when it should be in response to a request, rather than proactive work.