The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has today (Thursday 28 February 2013) published its advice to the Department for Transport (DfT) on how the market for terminal air navigation services at the UK’s largest airports is currently working.
The advice was requested by the Secretary of State for Transport in March 2012, and follows the CAA’s assessment of the terminal air navigation services market, covering services at the 16 largest airports in the UK. Terminal air navigation services - essentially air traffic support for take-off and landing –are currently provided by NSL (a wholly owned subsidiary of NATS) at all but four of the airports in the scope of the assessment.
The criteria used for the assessment are set under European regulations, and apply to the second reference period of the Single European Sky (SES) performance scheme, which runs from 2015 to 2019. The criteria cover the extent to which:
• Service providers can freely offer to provide or withdraw services;
• There is free choice in respect of service providers;
• There is a range of service providers for airports to choose from;
• Whether airports are subject to cost pressures or incentive-based regulation.
The European regulations for the 2015-2019 period will apply to airports with at least 70,000 flights per year. Following a comprehensive assessment of market conditions against the criteria set out under European regulations, the CAA’s view is that there is not evidence to demonstrate there is currently a working market for terminal air navigation services at the eight UK airports that fall within the scope of the regulation.
However, the CAA believes there is the potential for the market to work better in the future, and would like to work with aviation stakeholders to identify changes that may strengthen these prospects. In addition, the CAA advises there may be a need for further assessments where situations change significantly, so the regulatory regime reflects the most up-to-date evidence.
DfT will now consider the CAA’s advice and then inform the European Commission whether the UK plans to opt out of cost efficiency targets. Under the Single European Sky regulations, the UK can only opt out of these targets if satisfactory market conditions exist.
The CAA’s advice was first published for consultation on 28 January, and stakeholder feedback has been considered in developing the final advice to DfT. The CAA’s final advice to DfT is available at: www.caa.co.uk/CAP1004.
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Notes to editors
1. The CAA’s advice to DfT is based on the evidence from the airports with over 70,000 flights per year – which is the new threshold that the European Commission is expected to set for the assessment of market conditions for terminal air navigation services for the 2015-2019 performance period. These airports are: Heathrow; Gatwick; Manchester; Stansted; Edinburgh; Luton; Birmingham International; and Glasgow.
2. The assessment was not a full competition assessment of market power for terminal air navigation services – as would be required for an investigation under competition law. The assessment was only a study of the situation in the UK against the criteria set out in the SES regulation.
3. More information on the Single European Sky initiative is available at: www.eurocontrol.int/content/single-sky-europe
4. The CAA is the UK's specialist aviation regulator. Its activities include: making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards; preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency; planning and regulating all UK airspace; and regulating airports, air traffic services and airlines and providing advice on aviation policy from an economic standpoint.