Competition powers

CAA's powers under Competition Act and Enterprise Act for airports and air traffic services

Making markets work better for airport users

The Competition Act 1998

The CAA has concurrent powers with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to enforce the prohibitions in the Competition Act as they relate to airport operation services and the supply of air traffic services. The prohibitions are:

  • Chapter I - Agreements between undertakings, decisions by associations of undertakings or concerted practices which:
    • may affect trade within the UK; and
    • have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition within the UK
  • Chapter II - Any conduct on the part of one or more undertakings which amounts to the abuse of a dominant position in a market if it may affect trade within the UK

The CAA also has powers to enforce the equivalent provisions relating to competition in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Articles 101 and 102 respectively) where the relevant behaviour may affect trade between Member States.

There are many types of conduct that could be covered by the prohibitions, examples include excessive pricing, price discrimination, predation, price fixing and refusal to supply.

If you are submitting a complaint to the CAA about conduct that you consider may be prohibited under the Competition Act, the CAA suggests you contact it either by e-mail at economicregulation@caa.co.uk or telephone 020 7453 6225. The information that the CAA would require in a written reasoned complaint is in the following document.

A Memorandum of Understanding between the CAA and CMA sets out how they will, in practice, work together within the framework of competition law.

More information on the CAA's approach towards the enforcement of the prohibitions and how to complain to the CAA about anti-competitive conduct is available in the following CAA documents.

Air traffic services

 Airports

In enforcing the Competition Act, for the time being the CAA has adopted the relevant guidelines published by the CMA. These are available on the CMA website.

Enterprise Act 2002

The CAA has concurrent powers with the CMA to make market investigation references to the CMA under the Enterprise Act with respect to both airport operation services and the supply of air traffic services. The CAA has adopted the OFT's guidelines on market investigation references until such time as it considers it appropriate to publish more detailed guidelines.

Section 41 of the Airports Act 1986

The CAA had powers to investigate certain types of anti-competitive conduct under section 41 of the Airports Act. These powers have now ceased. Information on the CAA's policy and processes for using its powers under section 41 and details of previous cases can be found on the section 41 page of the CAA website.

Most recent case: Investigation into Heathrow Airport's structure of airport charges 

Other legislation

The CAA can also investigate complaints about the conduct of airports under some other pieces of legislation. Links to the relevant pages on the CAA's website on these pieces of legislation are below:

The CAA also licences NATS (En Route) plc under the Transport Act 2000