The Civil Aviation Authority has criticised transport secretary Ruth Kelly’s decision to maintain the price-control regime at Stansted airport.
Kelly rejected a CAA recommendation to remove its cap on charges to airlines at Stansted last week, despite deregulating the charges on airlines using Manchester.
But the CAA rejected Kelly’s assertion that price controls are needed at Stansted to protect consumers.
In a statement, the aviation regulator said Stansted did not enjoy a sufficiently strong market position to justify a price cap.
“The conclusions drawn by the government and the CAA differ,” it said. “The government considers it more likely than not that Stansted will acquire substantial market power in the future, while the CAA considers the airport is not likely to do so.”
Ryanair and easyJet, the leading operators at Stansted, lobbied hard for the Department for Transport to reject the CAA’s proposals despite calling for removal of price caps elsewhere. The carriers feared airport operator BAA would raise charges to pay for a proposed second runway and additional terminal.
The Government and CAA agree on maintaining price regulation at Heathrow and Gatwick.