UK CAA orders Gatwick to provide clarity about charges

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London's Gatwick Airport has been instructed by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to provide airlines using the facility with greater clarity on the reasons for some of its charges.

The airport has been told to comply with the CAA's 'Transparency Condition' imposed some 20 years ago, but will not face any financial penalties for having previously failed to do so.

The ruling follows a complaint by Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair, which recently won a related case against Gatwick over the airport's charges for the use of check-in facilities. Ryanair argued it was being charged for a service that the vast majority of its passengers did not use.

Referring to the latest decision, the CAA said: "Basically [the airport] is not providing sufficient information to airlines on how they have reached their charging figures.

"This dates back to 1990 when we referred [airport operator] BAA to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission for anti-competitive practices. Out of that came the Transparency Condition, which we apply to Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports, obliging BAA and the three individual airports to supply transparent information to airlines on the charges they put in place for services."

Gatwick was one of BAA's airports until the operator was forced by the UK government to sell it off, with control passing to new owner Global Infrastructure Partners in October 2009.

Ryanair's complaint covered the past six years, said the CAA, so the problem pre-dated Gatwick's sale. The CAA had received no complaints regarding any similar problems at Heathrow or Stansted, but "in the light of this decision it's something we may well be looking at a bit more closely".

Gatwick has been given until 1 April 2012 to remedy its shortcomings, said the CAA, adding: "We're not convinced a financial penalty is necessary."