Airport offers deregulated deal

GatwickBosses of a major holiday airport have promised airlines and passengers a better deal - if only they could be free of aviation economic regulation.

Gatwick airport in West Sussex is one of only three UK airports regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). As with Heathrow and Stansted the CAA's regulation includes capping the amount the three London airports can impose on airlines in take-off and landing charges.

Announcing a £1 billion investment plan at Gatwick between 2014 and 2019, the West Sussex airport's chiefs proposed a seven-year, regulation-free regime.

The Gatwick plan envisages airline charge levels that would equate to the per-passenger fee going up from £8.80 in 2014 to a maximum of £10.68 in 2020/21.

Gatwick stressed that this price compared favourably with a maximum average price level increase possible under the CAA's five-year regulatory framework in which the per-passenger fee would rise to £11.45 by 2018/19.

Last autumn, the CAA invited proposals from Gatwick, whose plans follow the £3 billion investment projects announced earlier this week by Heathrow bosses.

Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said the proposed new deal for Gatwick was "a better deal for airlines and their passengers than a regulatory outcome".

The CAA will make initial proposals on the 2014 to 2019 regulatory regime for the three London airports in April with a final decision due in January 2014. By then the three airports will know what they can charge airlines.

Although the CAA will study the Gatwick plans carefully there is little or no chance of the West Sussex airport being removed from regulation.

A CAA spokesman said: "We will carefully consider Gatwick's proposal, alongside their customers' responses, as we go through the process of setting our regulatory approach for the period after April 2014. The next stage of that is for us to publish our assessment of Gatwick's market power and our proposed regulatory approach, in April this year."
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