Multi-million-pound fines could be imposed on airports operator BAA for any repeat of this week’s chaos at Heathrow, according to reports this morning.

A new regulatory regime being pushed through by the government would include a “winter resilience” target for airports.

Ministers are preparing a Bill to introduce licence conditions at regulated airports, including the BAA-owned Heathrow and Stansted, which will give the Civil Aviation Authority powers to intervene and demand improved performance.

Hefty fines could be levied if management failed to respond, with the ultimate sanction being the CAA’s removal of the company’s licence to operate the airport.

At present the regulator has far more limited powers, largely confined to setting service quality thresholds at each five-yearly review.

Transport minister Theresa Villiers told The Daily Telegraph that revamping regulation, including the introduction of a new had become a priority for the Government.

“The recent episode reinforces the necessity of reforming airport regulation,” she said.

Villiers said the new licensing system, which will put passengers rather than airlines at the heart of the regulatory regime, would enable the CAA to intervene over “winter resilience and customer information” – seen as the two major failures this week.