Clause 67 - Airports: supplementary

Civil Aviation Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 6th March 2012.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Nigel Mills Nigel Mills Conservative, Amber Valley

I have two questions. I am sorry for detaining the Committee again. There are lots of lovely definitions here, which seem to excite my interest.

Subsection (3) states:

“A car park is a qualifying car park if…it has pedestrian access to such a terminal.”

I presume that “pedestrian access” does not mean a pavement between a separate car park and the terminal building, but a dedicated passenger tunnel, or something that links the two together completely. Otherwise, an open patch of ground or long-running pavement from one to the other could be regarded as pedestrian access. I assume the logic of that is not what is intended, but I am not quite sure how we interpret that definition.

According to clause 5, an airport does not include a bus station, tram station or a railway station. I think we have been reassured in the past that a regulated airport would be allowed to include the costs of developing, maintaining or enhancing such stations in their regulated assets for the purposes of the charges they can pass on to the airlines. Is that entirely consistent with the definition that an airport does not include a railway station or a bus station?

Earlier, I asked the Minister about the calculation of a fine and the turnover of an airport. She kindly confirmed that the turnover would include all the revenue the airport operator derives, which, in Heathrow’s case—certainly in the accounts I quoted—included income from the railway station. I cannot quite square that with a definition of an airport that excludes the railway station. Will she clarify exactly when railway stations and so forth will fall within an airport for regulatory purposes, and when they will fall outside it?

Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers The Minister of State, Department for Transport 4:30 pm, 6th March 2012

Clause 67 provides further clarification on what is and is not included in the definition of an airport. For example, subsection (6) states that a passenger who has not arrived by air arrives at the airport when they arrive at one of the following: a terminal building, a terminal forecourt, or a car park with pedestrian access to the terminal. It is not intended that that should apply to the sort of dedicated, particular pathway to which my hon. Friend referred. The mere fact of pedestrian access is relevant.

On the other hand, the airport does not include car parks without pedestrian access, hotels unless they are part of the passenger terminal or bus, tram or railway stations. We do not think that it would be right to include bus, tram or railway stations in the definition of an airport because, where appropriate, they are already subject to economic regulatory regimes. However, as we have discussed, I am confident that where it is in the end user’s interest in the provision of airport operation services to include railway assets in the airport’s regulated asset base, the CAA will have the discretion to do so. Nothing in the clause will prevent the CAA from doing so, which I think is the point about which my hon. Friend was concerned.

Photo of Graham Stringer Graham Stringer Labour, Blackley and Broughton

I would be grateful if the Minister explained why a hotel should be included when it is in a terminal. It makes no difference whether a hotel is within or outside the terminal; it is usually independently operated. I know that she has been to Manchester airport, where there is a Radisson hotel halfway between two terminals connected by a skywalk. Is that particular hotel included within the definition of being in a terminal?

Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers The Minister of State, Department for Transport

I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman is assuming too much about my knowledge of the layout of Manchester airport. I am unable to answer his points about the Radisson hotel, but as we have discussed on numerous occasions during this Committee’s deliberations, Manchester airport is not subject to regulation, and there is no immediate prospect that it will become so. I suspect that that is not something Manchester airport will need to worry about as a practical issue in the immediate future.

The Bill contains several safeguards to ensure that the scope of the CAA’s licensing powers is not necessarily limited to the airport. Clause 21(1)(f) allows for licence conditions relating to activities carried on outside the airport area for which the licence is granted. The primary duty is broadly to further the interests of end users with regard to the provision of airport operation services. Plainly, it is in the interests of users in the provision of airport operation services to have strong service access links to an airport; otherwise, many passengers might have to access the airport at a higher cost.

I hope that that covers the questions asked. I commend the clause to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 67 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 68 to 70 ordered to stand part of the Bill.