Select Committee on Transport Third Special Report


Government response: General

Government welcomes the views of the Transport Select Committee on the Future of BAA.

The Government remains committed to the 30-year strategic framework for the development of airport capacity in the UK in the Future of Air Transport White Paper in 2003. This set out a strategic and sustainable approach to balancing the economic benefits of airport development, the social benefits of easier and more affordable air travel and the environmental impacts that air travel generates.

It is important to recognise that unlike other parts of our strategic transport infrastructure, the Government is not the primary provider of civil airport capacity in the UK. The UK's major airports are in the main operated by private sector companies, or in some cases, under local authority ownership. The role of Government is therefore primarily one of enabler and regulator, operating through the planning system in particular, to take a strategic view of where airport development may be needed.

The Competition Commission is currently taking forward an inquiry into the airport services provided by BAA in the UK. The deadline for the completion of this inquiry is 29 March 2009 and therefore it would not be appropriate for Government to comment on the conclusions and recommendations of the Transport Select Committee which relate to issues already being addressed as part of that market inquiry, such as ownership.



1. The Competition Commission should not automatically be involved in the review of airport charges. Instead, it should be a body to which the airport operators may go if they wish to appeal. We welcome the Government's announcement of the strategic review of the CAA, and hope that Sir Joseph Pilling will take note of the consensus that has emerged around the question of the nature of the future relationship between the CAA and the Competition Commission. (Paragraph 25)

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