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)