Examination of Witnesses (Questions 340-359)|
18 JANUARY 2006
Q340 Chairman: So we can blame you?
Mr Cahn: Please do. I hope you
blame me for the good things as well as the bad things.
Q341 Chairman: There is lots of scope,
Mr Cahn: There is a lot of scope.
EASA has good parts and bad parts. I am convinced that the concept
of EASA remains a correct one and I do not think anybody at this
table would wish to return simply to the JAA approach. However,
what is true and I would agree with Sir Roy about is that EASA
has made a poor and disappointing start. There is excessive bureaucracy,
there is inadequate funding and there is poor management.
Q342 Chairman: So apart from that,
it is fine?
Mr Cahn: Yes. I believe that EASA
itself has the scope to contribute to greater safety in Europe.
Q343 Chairman: If we live long enough
it will be great. I want to ask a question of BATA. The Committee
has heard of a case where a passenger was taken ill on a domestic
flight and was simply left to fend for herself in an unknown airport
far from her destination, the plane was diverted and the pilot
subsequently refused to carry the passenger, despite medical staff
declaring her fit to travel. What is your policy in such cases?
Mr Wilshire: I do not know the
case to which you refer.
Q344 Chairman: I have no doubt that
the Member, who is a member of this Committee, will gladly give
you copies of the correspondence. What happened was that they
were left to fend for themselves at Liverpool Airport on Sunday
evening and they had to pay £180 for a taxi to Bristol, nor
have they been reimbursed. So you do not have a particular policy
about that set of circumstances?
Mr Wilshire: Chairman, I think
this needs to be investigated in terms of which airline.
Q345 Chairman: We will happily send
you copies of the correspondence with the agreement of the MP.
Why do airlines refuse to carry people with reduced mobility,
Mr O'Leary: We do not and we never
have done. We welcome all passengers with reduced mobility and
Q346 Chairman: I am sure that will
be very good when it is publicised. What about the scheduled airlines,
do you have problems with ferrying anyone with reduced mobility?
Mr Humphreys: Certainly from the
point of view of my airline, we go to enormous trouble to take
care of passengers with reduced mobility and we carry many of
them all the time and indeed we win many awards for doing so.
As far as I am aware most other scheduled carriers are in a similar
Q347 Chairman: Have you ever considered
that you might be prosecuted under health and safety legislation
and therefore decide it was not in your interests?
Mr Humphreys: No.
Q348 Chairman: And you, Mr Cahn?
Mr Cahn: No.
Mr O'Leary: No.
Mr Cahn: I absolutely associate
myself with what Mr Humphreys has said. We go to great lengths
to provide for passengers with reduced mobility. There is, however,
a regulatory issue. Currently we have legislation contemplated
in Brussels and in the United Kingdom and in Washington all covering
the same area. We are very keen to contribute to legislative action
to look after such passengers, but it should be co-ordinated legislation
so we do not have conflicting or overlapping regulation.
Q349 Chairman: So we do not have
to do anything until we get worldwide agreement, is that it?
Mr Cahn: Worldwide agreements
will always be the best. I suspect that will not work. Agreements
at a Community level and then agreements across the Atlantic would
Q350 Chairman: BATA says that the
difference in costs of registration, even after proposed changes
to safety regulation charges, will be 50% more than in Ireland
and five times more than in Germany. Can the CAA achieve efficiencies
large enough to bring their fees into line with the rest of Europe?
Mr Wilshire: Eventually, yes,
based on EASA setting the rules and the implementation of those
rules being consistent across all European states.
Q351 Chairman: What is a fair rate,
for example, when we are considering a 6% rate of return on capital,
because although it has been presented as being, somehow or other,
an added tax, it would certainly be regarded by most regulators
as a realistic assessment of the use of facilities and capital?
Mr Humphreys: I have great difficulty
understanding what that return on assets is actually for. I believe
when the CAA was set up in 1972 certain assets were transferred
from the government to the CAA, but that was 30-odd years ago
and most companies would have long since written off assets such
as those. I am not aware of any additional money put in by the
government or assets of any form because the CAA since then has
been self-financing. It is not clear to me at all why there should
be a return.
Q352 Chairman: Since it is an industry-financed
organisation, why do you think the National Audit Office, which
is very much a government department, should have a role in the
auditing of the CAA?
Mr Humphreys: For the reason that
Mr Cahn mentioned, that the CAA by definition and quite rightly
is a monopoly. Someone should have a look at monopolists to ensure
that they are efficient and effective.
Q353 Chairman: Do you think one way
you could get round that would be by reference to the Competition
Mr Humphreys: That may be an alternative,
but I am not sure the Competition Commission is really set up
for that sort of investigation, but it is worth looking at.
Q354 Chairman: If there was an automatic
referral to the Competition Commission would it not automatically
ensure that you had your rights protected as airport users?
Mr Humphreys: Perhaps. The Competition
Commission, if I understand it correctly, is primarily interested
in competition. There cannot be competition when it comes to a
regulator. That is why I say I am not sure that is the ideal organisation
to look at it.
Q355 Chairman: Several times today
you and various other people have suggested that the interests
of consumers in airlines are absolutely parallel, particularly
in relation to the regulation of airport charges. Why do you think
that should be suggested?
Mr Humphreys: If as airlines we
do not associate ourselves with the interests of our customers
we would very rapidly go out of business.
Q356 Chairman: Why should the customer
automatically be regarded as having the same interests as the
airlines when it comes to charges for airports, which is one of
your normal overheads presumably unless you take to landing in
Mr Humphreys: Because the charges
that the airports make on the airlines get passed on to the consumer
and therefore he has a direct interest in what the airports charge.
Q357 Chairman: So we are assuming
that everything will be passed on. Mr Cahn, you have argued the
process of improving airspace changes needs to be reformed. Why
Mr Cahn: We are now entering a
period when airspace is particularly heavily used and ever more
congested, particularly in the south-east of England. We think
that the traditional way that that part of the CAA has approached
the regulation of airspace is simply too slow, it has taken typically
four or five years to make any changes, it is too cumbersome and
does not respond to the needs of the market. For example, if there
are to be changes at any of the airports in the south-east of
England to achieve the objectives set out very clearly in the
December 2003 White Paper of maximising the use of the current
infrastructure in the south-east of England substantial changes
to airspace will be needed and that will take a very long time
if the old processes are used.
Q358 Chairman: Do you think it is
common that the height indication of flight paths is changed on
a piecemeal basis?
Mr Cahn: I think that it perhaps
is not as well co-ordinated as it might be. I am really talking
about the time it takes and the way the process is developed.
Q359 Chairman: Do you think the environmental
impact of these changes is ever considered in sufficient depth?
Mr Cahn: I think that the environmental
impact of all aspects of aviation is getting ever higher in terms
of policy importance.