The Civil Aviation Authority has appointed a new chair to lead its Consumer Panel.

Former Consumer Affairs Minister, Jenny Willott, was selected following an external recruitment process and will take over from Keith Richards in January 2018.

In joining the Consumer Panel, Jenny brings a wealth of relevant experience having previously served as a Minister in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Government Equalities Office.

The CAA's Consumer Panel was launched in 2012, to act as a critical friend to the organisation, providing it with advice on how best to further the interests of consumers.  In this function, the Panel plays an essential role in helping the CAA deliver its vision to make aviation better for current and future consumers by bringing a consumer perspective to the CAA's thinking.

Chair of the CAA, Dame Deirdre Hutton, said: “In recruiting a new Chair of the Consumer Panel we wanted someone with a strong consumer background, the ability to lead the Panel, and with the right qualities to work with the CAA to think through complex consumer issues, while retaining independence of thought.

“In appointing Jenny, I am confident we have found someone with all these qualities, and having worked at the heart of consumer affairs during her time in Government, she also has first-hand knowledge of the issues on which the CAA wants to make a difference.

“I would also like to thank outgoing Chair, Keith Richards, for his work in establishing the CAA's Consumer Panel and encouraging the CAA to properly reflect the interests of consumers in all its work.”

Jenny Willott was Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central, between 2005 and 2015. She is currently Director of Enterprise and Innovation at St Mary's University and a Non-Executive Director of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

“Following her appointment Jenny said: “I am delighted to be appointed as Chair of the CAA's Consumer Panel and look forward to playing a key role in the next phase of the Panel's evolution.

“Using my experiences as an MP, where I worked on behalf of constituents protecting their rights, and as a Government Minister working on consumer legislation, I am looking forward to helping develop and influence the CAA's future consumer policies.”


Media Enquiries

For further information call the CAA Press Office on 0207 453 6030 /

Notes to Editors:          

The CAA Consumer Panel has been established to help the CAA deliver its vision to make aviation better for current and future consumers by bringing a consumer perspective to the CAA's thinking.  

The key activities of the Panel are to: 

  • help the CAA to understand fully, and take account of, the interests of consumers in its policy development and decisions.

  • use existing CAA research, request the CAA to undertake new targeted research, and to gather intelligence, to understand the aviation consumer experience. 

  • provide the CAA with feedback from a consumer perspective on the effectiveness of its policies and practices.

  • help the CAA develop its approach to consumer engagement to inform its work. 

  • challenge the CAA on behalf of aviation consumers, as appropriate, and if required, through publicly available written notices, in order to positively influence outcomes for passengers. 

  • maintain an overview of developments in the aviation market from a passenger perspective and developments affecting consumers in other markets.

  The Panel's Terms of Reference.

  • 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.