Civil Aviation Bill – on powers for the CAA – introduced into Parliament

The Government’s Civil Aviation Bill, the purpose of which is to update the economic regulation duties and powers of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), has begun its passage through Parliament.  These new powers will put passengers at the heart of how the UK’s major airports are run.  The Civil Aviation Bill (which was earlier referred to as the Airport Economic Regulation Bill)  will replace the current economic regulation duties of the CAA with a single primary duty to promote the interests of passengers. The Bill is designed to modernise the key elements of how the industry is regulated and contribute to economic growth.


The Civil Aviation Bill has been introduced into the House of Commons today, by the DfT.

 The DfT states that:

This Bill modernises the regulatory framework for civil aviation in the United Kingdom to enable the sector to increase its contribution to economic growth without compromising high standards.  There are four key areas:

a.      reforms to the legislative framework for the economic regulation of airports

b.      modernisation of the CAA’s powers and governance

c.      conferring certain aviation security functions on the CAA

d.      ATOL

Further information is available at:

The CAA has also today published an indicative airport licence and high level plan to develop the full airport licences, in response to the Government’s request under S16 (1) of the Civil Aviation Act.

19.1.2012   Hansard

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on 30th January, and to be printed (Bill 275) with explanatory notes (Bill 275-EN).  It will then enter Committee stage.


This  Bill was originally called the Airport Economic Regulation Bill, in the Queen’s Speech in May 2010

The DfT press release:

New powers will put passengers first

19.1.2012   (Department for Transport)

New powers which will put passengers at the heart of how the UK’s major airports are run have begun their passage through Parliament.

The Civil Aviation Bill – which had its first reading in Parliament today – will replace the current economic regulation duties of the aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), with a single primary duty to promote the interests of passengers.

The Bill will also give the CAA more flexibility to set performance measures at major airports, encourage investment in improvements and provide passengers and other airport users – such as those sending cargo by air – with more information about airline and airport performance.

Aviation Minister Theresa Villiers said:

“The powers in this Bill will put the needs of passengers clearly and unambiguously at the heart of how our major airports are run. They will help promote better public information about airline and airport performance and give the CAA more power to tackle the issues which matter to passengers. Under the new rules, the CAA will be able to intervene much more quickly when an airport is failing passengers, for example on winter preparedness.”

“The end result of these reforms will be a modern regulatory regime for our airports which is flexible, proportionate, targeted and effective, while unnecessary regulation and unnecessary intervention by central Government will be removed.”

Much of the legislation surrounding aviation dates back to the 1980s; airlines and airports have welcomed the Government’s intent to update it. The Bill is designed to modernise the key elements of how the industry is regulated and contribute to economic growth.

The Bill also proposes that the costs of regulating aviation security should be covered by the aviation industry as happens with safety regulation. This will involve conferring certain aviation security functions, such as monitoring and enforcement, on the CAA which charges the industry for its activities. However, the responsibility for setting aviation security policy and making aviation security directions to the industry will remain with the Secretary of State for Transport. It is estimated that this move could save UK taxpayers over £4m a year.

The Civil Aviation Bill also contains a clause which could enable the Secretary of State to make long-term changes to the ATOL holiday protection scheme. The clause provides the option to include holidays sold by airlines, which are currently exempt from the scheme, in the ATOL scheme. It also provides the power to bring holidays arranged on an ‘agent for the consumer’ basis into ATOL protection. Subject to Parliamentary process, the Government would carry out a full consultation including an impact assessment on any regulations that could give effect to these powers. The Government will shortly make a full announcement on ATOL reform, which will set out its decisions on the options for near-term reform as consulted on in summer 2011.

Notes to editors

  1. The CAA currently has four duties for the purposes of economic regulation, they are:
    • to further the reasonable interests of users of airports within the UK, users being defined (in section 82 of the Airports Act) as airlines, passengers and other user of air transport services at the airport;
    • to promote the efficient, economic and profitable operation of such airports ;
    • to encourage investment in new facilities at airports in time to satisfy anticipated demands by the users of such airports; and
    • to impose the minimum restrictions that are consistent with the performance by the CAA of its functions under those sections.

    In addition, the CAA is also required to take account of international obligations.

  2. The proposals set out today will replace these with a single primary duty and a limited number of further duties. These are:
  3. Primary duty
    • to further the interest of consumers (that is passengers and owners of cargo both present and future), wherever appropriate by promoting competition

    Further duties

    • to ensure that licence holders are able to finance the activities which are subject to the relevant licence obligations;
    • to secure that all reasonable demands for airport services are met;
    • to promote economy and efficiency on the part of licence holders in its provisions of airport services at regulated airports;
    • to have regard to guidance issued by the Secretary of State;
    • to have regard to any international obligation of the UK;
    • to have regard to principles of better regulation
  4. The Transport Select Committee has today published its report on the draft Civil Aviation Bill which was published in November 2011. The Committee’s recommendations will be taken into consideration as the Bill proceeds through Parliament. The Department welcomes the TSC’s finding that they have found “general support from the aviation industry and the regulator for the measures proposed in the draft Bill.” The Committee has arranged to hear evidence on ATOL on 31 January and intends to report on this issue in due course.
  5. Further information on the Civil Aviation Bill including documents and progress may be found at http://​services​.parliament​.uk/​b​i​l​l​s​/​2​0​1​0​-​1​1​/​c​i​v​i​l​a​v​i​a​t​i​o​n​.​h​tml


And the Minister has published:
which merely lists the Government documents issued since 2002 when the original Guidance to the CAA on its environmental objectives came out.

“The Government recognises the need to update the Guidance to reflect current Government policy. This will be done following development of the Sustainable Framework for UK Aviation, [the DfT consultation starting in March 2012]  taking account of all relevant Government policy documents published since 2002 such as Department for Communities and Local Government’s National Planning Policy Framework for England” so a fuller guidance will no doubt appear in the Consultation this year….