Air Transport - The Law and Regulation (UK)

06 October 2008

Richard Venables, William Morton, Tim Murray


1. Which bodies regulate aviation in your country, and under what basic laws?

In the United Kingdom, the secretary of state for transport, in accordance with the Civil Aviation Act 1982 (the Act) has the general duty of: ‘Organising, carrying out and encouraging measures for the development of civil aviation, for the designing, development and production of civil aircraft, for the promotion of safety and efficiency in the use thereof and for research into questions relating to air navigation’.

Pursuant to the Act, the secretary of state has, by regulation, delegated specific powers and duties to the Civil Aviation Authority (the CAA).

Regulation of aviation operations

2. How is air transport regulated in terms of safety?

The CAA has power under article 6 of the Air Navigation Order 2005 (the ANO) to grant an air operator’s certificate to the operator of a UK registered aircraft for public transport operations if it is satisfied that the applicant is competent to secure the safe operation of aircraft of the types specified in the certificate.

The CAA is also responsible for the continuing supervision of UK registered aircraft and will specify and monitor operational requirements relating to aircraft, maintenance and crew.

The CAA is also responsible within the UK for the grant and renewal of air traffic controller licences.

Flights to, from and within the UK by aircraft registered other than in the UK are regulated by the secretary of state for transport.

3. What safety regulation is provided for air operations that do not constitute public or commercial transport and how is the distinction made?

A private flight is a flight that is undertaken neither for the purpose of aerial work nor for the purpose of public transport.

Whether or not an aircraft is flying for the purposes of public transport requires careful legal analysis. It will, however, be so classified if valuable consideration is given or promised for the carriage of passengers or cargo on a flight, or if there is a gratuitous carriage of passengers or cargo by an air transport undertaking.

Aerial work means any purpose (other than public transport) for which an aircraft is flown if valuable consideration is given or promised in respect of the flight or the purpose of the flight, subject to certain exceptions.

Safety regulation of private flights is imposed by the CAA through private pilot licensing, engineer certification and certificates of airworthiness for aircraft.

4. Is access to the market for the provision of air transport services regulated, and if so, how?

The CAA is the competent authority in the UK to grant and maintain operating licences. To do so, the CAA must be and remain satisfied about specified matters, including:

  • the principal place of business of the applicant

  • its ownership and control;

  • its financial arrangements;

  • insurance;

  • ownership of aircraft; and

  • the applicant’s holding of a valid air operator’s certificate.

Possession of an operating licence entitles the holder to operate on most routes within the European Economic Area (EEA). EEA member states may also limit access to:

  • routes upon which a public service obligation (PSO) applies;

  • regional routes where traffic is below specified thresholds; and

  • congested airports.

The CAA also grants route licences in respect of routes outside the EEA.

5. What requirements apply in the areas of financial fitness and nationality of ownership regarding control of air carriers?

An applicant for an operating licence must satisfy the CAA that it can meet its actual and potential obligations over a period of two years. Further, it has to show that it can meet its fixed and operational costs for the first three months without taking into account any income.

Thereafter, the CAA must remain satisfied that the carrier can meet its actual and potential obligations over a 12-month period.

The holder of an operating licence must at all times be able to satisfy the CAA that it is owned directly, or through majority ownership, by EEA member states or nationals of member states. It must also be effectively controlled by such states or such nationals.

6. What procedures are there to obtain licences or other rights to operate particular routes?

An operating licence entitles the holder to operate on any route within the EEA (subject to the exceptions mentioned above). Holders of an operating licence issued by the CAA can apply to the CAA for a route licence to operate on a route outside the EEA. The Department for Transport, with advice from the CAA, negotiates traffic rights to enable a specific route to be operated.

7. What procedures are there for hearing or deciding contested applications for licences or other rights to operate particular routes?

Applications for route licences are published by the CAA in its Official Record. Any person can object to, or make a representation about, such applications provided that the objection or representation is served within a specified time period. Thereafter, the applicant and other defined parties have a right to be heard before the CAA reaches a decision on the application. The CAA also has responsibility to determine competing applications to use limited bilateral capacity available to UK airlines.

8. Is there a declared policy on airline access or competition, and if so, what is it?

The CAA, as required by the Act, publishes from time to time a statement of the policies that it intends to adopt in performing its functions. In general, the CAA adopts liberal policies and aims to eliminate unnecessary restrictions within its licensing and other regulatory processes.

9. Are there specific rules in place to ensure aviation services are offered to remote destinations when vital for the local economy?

The UK, in common with all other member states of the EEA, has the right to impose a PSO in respect of scheduled air services to an airport serving a peripheral or development region in its territory or on a thin route to any regional airport in its territory. Article 4 of Council Regulation 2408/92 contains specific rules applicable to PSOs.

10. Are charter services specially regulated?

There is no special regulation of charter services in respect of routes within the EEA. In respect of routes outside the EEA, charter licences are distinguished from scheduled licences if all the capacity on the aircraft is sold to one or more charterers for resale. Charter licences are specially regulated only to the extent that the bilateral situation demands it.

11. Are airfares regulated, and if so, how?

Air fares are regulated by the CAA through its licensing powers. In general, the CAA’s policy is a liberal one, but it will intervene to prevent the exploitation of market power to the disadvantage of users.


12. Who is entitled to be mentioned in the aircraft register? Do requirements or limitations apply to the ownership of an aircraft listed on your country’s register?

The persons entitled to be mentioned in the UK Register of Civil Aircraft are any persons having as owner a legal or beneficial interest in the aircraft or in a share of the aircraft

To be registered, such persons must also be qualified. The principal categories of qualified persons are:

  • citizens of the UK and the British Commonwealth;

  • nationals of any state within the EEA;

  • bodies incorporated in and having their principal place of business in any part of the British Commonwealth; and

  • undertakings formed in an EEA member state and having their principal place of business within the EEA.

The CAA may also permit registration of:

  • unqualified persons owning a legal or beneficial interest in an aircraft or a share therein if it is satisfied that they reside or have a place of business in the UK; and

  • qualified persons having possession of an aircraft as a charterer with a right to quiet enjoyment, even if an unqualified person legally or beneficially owns it.

13. Is there a register of aircraft mortgages or charges, and if so how does it function?

The CAA maintains an aircraft mortgage register in which any mortgage or charge over an aircraft on the UK aircraft register may be registered. A registered mortgage will take priority over subsequent registered mortgages and unregistered mortgages but not possessory liens or rights to detain under any Act of Parliament. All persons are deemed to have notice of all the facts in the mortgage register. No consent from other mortgagees or the CAA is required for registration.

14. What rights are there to detain aircraft, in respect of unpaid airport or air navigation charges, or other unpaid debts?

If the operator of an aircraft fails to pay an airport’s charges in respect of it, the airport is entitled to detain the aircraft and any other aircraft of which that operator has control at the time when the detention begins. The CAA may detain aircraft in respect of which Eurocontrol charges or any other charges for air traffic services have not been paid and any other aircraft controlled by the same operator. HM Revenue & Customs may detain an aircraft in respect of certain unpaid customs and excise charges. The repairers of an aircraft, if such repairs improve it, are entitled to exercise a lien over it until they are paid.

15. Do specific rules regulate the maintenance of aircraft?

An aircraft registered in the UK that holds an airworthiness certificate (which it must have if it is to fly) may not fly unless the aircraft is maintained in accordance with a maintenance schedule approved by the CAA. In addition, an aircraft used for public transport or aerial work may only fly if it has a certificate of maintenance review issued by an approved person certifying that a maintenance review has been carried out in accordance with the relevant maintenance schedule and specifying when the next review is due.


16. Who owns the airports?

Airports may be owned by the state, by local authorities (with the consent of the secretary of state), by any person, firm or companies or, in certain circumstances, by the CAA. BAA owns the three main London airports (Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted), the three main airports in Scotland (Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen) and Southampton airport. Other major airport owners include the Manchester Airports Group (Manchester, Nottingham East Midlands, Humberside and Bournemouth) and the Peel Group (Liverpool, Doncaster Sheffield and Durham Tees Valley). Some airports are owned by local authorities through public airport companies. These are companies carrying on the business of operating an airport as a commercial undertaking and which are owned by a single council or two or more councils.

17. What system is there for the licensing of airports?

Although there is no general requirement for aerodromes to be licensed, aircraft engaged on flights for the public transport of passengers must take off from or land at licensed or specified aerodromes. The CAA has responsibility under the Act for licensing aerodromes. Its functions in this area are exercised in accordance with the ANO and the Civil Aviation Authority Regulations 1991.

When granting an aerodrome licence, the CAA will consider the impact of the airport on the local population and the environment (including whether there should be any restrictions on the use of the airport to mitigate noise and pollution disturbances). It must also be satisfied that the aerodrome is safe for use by aircraft having regard to the physical characteristics of the aerodrome and of its surroundings.

The CAA may grant an ordinary aerodrome licence or a public use aerodrome licence. If the latter is granted, the aerodrome must be available to all persons on equal terms and conditions at all times when it is available for the take-off or landing of aircraft.

18. Is there a system of economic regulation of airports, and, if so, how does it function?

Under the Airports Act 1986, airports whose annual turnover exceeds £1 million are subject to economic regulation by the CAA once they have been designated for that purpose. Airports that are subject to economic regulation may not levy airport charges unless the airport operator has been granted permission to do so by the CAA. The CAA can investigate the conduct of such airports and if it finds that the airport operator is unreasonably discriminating between users, unfairly exploiting its bargaining position or engaging in predatory pricing it can impose conditions to remedy the situation.

At present, four airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Stansted) have been designated for detailed price control, although in early 2008, the secretary of state announced that Manchester Airport will be de-designated. For these airports, the CAA has a responsibility to set price caps for charges that can be levied during a period of five years. Before the charges (and other conditions) are set, the CAA’s proposals are referred to the Competition Commission, which is required to investigate and report to the CAA on a number of issues, including recommending maximum levels of the charges, and to consider whether at any time since the date of the last reference an airport has acted against the public interest. The CAA has to impose conditions if the Commission finds that an airport has been acting against the public interest but it takes the final decision on the price cap.

19. Are there laws or rules restricting or qualifying access to airports?

Laws and rules exist restricting or qualifying access to airports. These include the secretary of state’s powers under the Airports Act 1986:

  • to control airport operators by giving them (after consultation with the CAA, the airport operator and interested parties) general or specific directions where such are necessary or expedient in the interests of national security or of relations with a foreign country or in connection with any international obligation of the UK;

  • to make rules, after consultation with the CAA, for the purposes of distributing air traffic between two or more airports in the same area of the UK (traffic distribution rules);

  • where it appears that the existing runway capacity of a particular airport is not fully utilised for a substantial proportion of time during which it is available for take-off and landing, to impose (after consulting with the CAA, the airport operator and interested parties) either an overall limit on the number of aircraft movements during a specified period or limit the number of movements in specific circumstances (an aircraft movement limiting order) or both; and

  • where an aircraft movement limiting order is in force, to require the CAA to prepare a scheme allocating capacity at the airport (after consulting with the CAA, the airport operator and interested parties).

20. How are slots allocated at congested airports?

The allocation of slots is carried out in accordance with the procedures established by IATA and the provisions of European Council Regulation No. 95/93, as amended by European Parliament and Council Regulation No. 793/2004. The amendments were implemented by The Airports Slot Allocation Regulations 2006. Depending on the level of congestion, airports may be designated ‘schedules facilitated’ or ‘coordinated’. Such airports must appoint a coordinator to perform slot allocation duties in an independent, neutral, non-discriminatory and transparent way. Airport Co-ordination Limited carries out such duties in the UK. The current slot allocation regime is primarily based on historic use, where incumbent airlines have grandfather rights giving them preferential access to slots regardless of the services for which slots are used (subject to an 80 per cent ‘use it or lose it’ rule). Additional slots may be obtained from a slot pool (which may become available either through airport capacity expansion or from slots not being taken up or returned by airlines with grandfather rights). Airlines are permitted to exchange slots on a one-for-one basis (it would appear, following a Communication issued by the European Commission in April 2008, that any doubt regarding secondary trading has been cleared up so that this practice is now accepted by the Commission). Airlines may transfer slots from one type of service to another (operated by the same airline). Subject to certain conditions, slots may be transferred between parent companies and subsidiaries and between subsidiaries and as part of takeovers where the slots are directly related to the airline being taken over.

21. Are there any laws or rules specifically relating to ground handling?

The Airports (Groundhandling) Regulations 1997 implemented European Council Directive No. 96/67 on access to the ground handling market at EEA airports. The main features of the regime laid down by the regulations and directive include the ability of the managing body of an airport to ask the CAA to limit the number of suppliers who provide ground handling services and the type of services that they can supply. Further restrictions may be imposed in the case of airports where space and capacity is severely constrained. There are also rules about the process of selecting suppliers to provide ground handling services.

22. Who provides air traffic control services? And how are they regulated?

Under the Act and the Transport Act 2000, the CAA must perform functions, and has regulatory and licensing duties, in relation to air traffic services in the UK.

Providers of air traffic services in the UK must be licensed (licences are granted by the secretary of state or the CAA). National Air Traffic Services Limited is licensed to provide air traffic control services at 15 of the UK’s biggest airports and ‘en route’ air traffic services for aircraft flying through UK airspace. Air traffic control services at other airports are provided by a number of other licensed companies.

Liability and accidents

23. Are there any special rules in respect of death of, or injury to, passengers or loss or damage to baggage or cargo in respect of domestic carriage?

In the case of EEA carriers, domestic carriage is governed by European Council Regulation No. 2027/97 as amended by European Parliament and Council Regulation No. 889/2002 (which was given effect under UK law by the Air Carrier Liability Regulations 2004). The effect of these Regulations is to apply the Montreal Convention 1999 (including the liability rules and limits governing passenger, baggage and cargo claims) to non-international carriage. So, for example, in the case of claims in respect of death or personal injury to passengers, there is no financial limit on the liability of air carriers. For claims of up to 100,000 special drawing rights (SDR), the carrier may not exclude or limit its liability. To the extent that damages exceed that amount, the carrier is not liable if it can prove that the damage suffered was not due to the negligence or wrongful act or omission of the carrier or its servants or agents, or such damage was solely due to the negligence or other wrongful act or omission of a third party.

For cases which fall outside the scope of the 2004 Regulations, schedule 1 to the Carriage by Air Acts (Application of Provisions) Order 2004 broadly applies the provisions of the Montreal Convention 1999 and a modified version of the Guadalajara Convention 1961.

24. Are there any special rules about the liability of aircraft operators for surface damage?

Section 76(2) of the Act establishes strict liability in the case of surface damage caused by aircraft (including any person in, or an article, animal or person falling from, an aircraft) while in flight, taking off or landing. Where a person other than the owner causes such loss or damage, then the owner is entitled to be indemnified by that other person in any claim in respect of such loss or damage.

Although section 76(1) of the Act excludes liability for trespass and nuisance in certain circumstances, an action may lie in common law in respect of trespass, nuisance or privacy provided that the affected party can show that loss or damage has resulted.

25. What system is there for the investigation of air accidents, including procedures?

The Civil Aviation (Investigation of Air Accidents and Incidents) Regulations 1996, which implement Council Directive No. 94/56 regarding the investigation of civil aviation accidents and incidents (which, in turn, is very similar in content to annex 13 of the Chicago Convention), set out the procedure which applies in the case of civil accidents and incidents.

Another set of regulations, which follow the 1996 Regulations, apply in relation to accidents involving military aircraft at civil aerodromes. The 1996 Regulations require all accidents or serious incidents to be reported to the chief inspector of air accidents at the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, which is part of the Department for Transport and is responsible for the investigation of civil aircraft accidents and serious incidents within the UK.

An investigation of the accident or incident is carried out, following which a report of that investigation is prepared. Where appropriate, the report makes safety recommendations. Reports are published, although any person whose reputation is likely to be affected by the report may make representations to the inspector about its content before publication. The inspector may make such changes as he or she thinks fit after consideration of those representations.

26. Is there a mandatory accident and incident reporting system, and if so, how does it operate?

The mandatory reporting system applicable in the UK is set out in the ANO and Air Navigation (General) Regulations 2005, which implement European Parliament and Council Directive No. 2003/42 requiring member states to establish a system for reporting certain occurrences. The purpose of the scheme is to prevent accidents and improve safety rather than to apportion blame. The scheme requires certain defined occurrences to be reported to the CAA. The CAA must collect, evaluate, process and store information relating to occurrences.

Competition law

27. Do sector-specific competition rules apply to aviation? If not, do the general competition law rules apply?

UK competition law is modelled on EU law and there are no sector-specific competition law rules applying to aviation. General competition law rules do apply to aviation.

28. Is there a sector-specific regulator or are competition rules applied by the general competition authority?

Principal responsibility for the application of UK competition rules lies with the Office of Fair Trading, with which body there is some liaison by the CAA as the sector-specific regulator.

29. How is the relevant market for the purposes of a competition assessment in the aviation sector defined by the competition authorities?

The same general principles are applied in defining the relevant market in an aviation case as in other industry sectors. The process usually begins by establishing the closest substitutes to the product or services under investigation and considers whether the number of customers likely to switch is large enough to deter a ‘hypothetical monopolist’ from exercising market power. A market definition will usually contain a product market and a geographic market. In practice, varying types of evidence will be balanced and a judgment reached.

30. What are the main standards for assessing the competitive effect of a transaction?

The principal test for assessing the competitive impact of a transaction is whether it will result in a substantial lessening of competition.

31. What types of remedies have been imposed to remedy concerns identified by the competition authorities?

Examples of remedies include:

  • the freezing of flight frequencies;

  • a requirement for the merged entity to enter into an interline agreement with a competitor or to admit a competitor to a joint frequent flyer programme;

  • a release of slots to allow the entry of a competitor; and

  • a mandatory fare reduction equivalent to that on other specified routes operated by the merged entity.

Financial support and state aid

32. Are there sector-specific rules regulating direct or indirect financial support to individual companies by the government or government-controlled agencies or companies (state aid) in the aviation sector? If not, do general state aid rules apply?

Specific UK rules or laws regarding state aid in the aviation sector do not exist. Nonetheless, the general provisions on state aid laid down in articles 87 to 89 of the EC Treaty apply to air transport. In addition, in 1994 the European Commission issued guidelines on state aid in the air transport sector. In 2005, it published guidelines on the financing of airports and start-up aid.

33. What are the main principles of the state aid rules applicable to the aviation sector?

The main principles include:

  • Operating subsidies are only permissible in the context of a PSO or where they constitute aid of a ‘social character’ to specific categories of passenger, regardless of the carrier which operates the services for which the aid has been granted.

  • A transaction will not constitute unlawful aid if it satisfies the ‘market economy investor principle’. In other words, the terms on which aid is made available by the state to the airline would have to be acceptable to a private investor, operating under normal market conditions, which was prepared to provide funds to a comparable private undertaking.

  • In relation to the financing of airports, generally, public financing for providing or operating airport infrastructure will amount to aid – exemptions may be granted.

  • In relation to start-up aid from smaller regional airports (generally those which handle fewer than 5 million passengers each year), if an airport decides to grant an airline public aid, which is not justified on purely commercial grounds, such aid is only permissible if it covers no more than 30 to 50 per cent of the additional costs incurred in starting up the new service. The service benefiting from the aid must ultimately prove profitable; for this reason, such aid must be degressive and limited to a maximum of three years (or five years in the case of disadvantaged regions and the outermost regions of the EEA).

  • An exemption to the prohibition on aid may be granted where the aid would result in the promotion of certain economic activities, subject to the proviso that the aid must not adversely affect trading conditions. In addition, approval of the aid is usually granted subject to a number of conditions, for example, that it is part of a restructuring programme which is capable of restoring the viability of the airline within a reasonable period. Further, there is a ‘one time, last time’ principle for aid of this type.

34. Are there exemptions from the state aid rules or situations in which they do not apply?

General exemptions are set out in articles 87(2) and (3) of the EC Treaty. The state aid rules do not apply in the case of aid that does not exceed e100,000 over a three-year period. Further, where a state-owned company is privatised, aid is excluded where the disposal is made by way of an unconditional public invitation to tender to the highest bidder and the process is transparent. Otherwise, there is a presumption of unlawful aid and so the procedures described below must be followed.

35. Must clearance from the competition authorities be obtained before state aid may be granted?

Clearance must be obtained from the European Commission before state aid may be granted.

36. If so, what are the main procedural steps to obtain clearance?

Article 88(3) of the EC Treaty requires each EEA member state to notify the European Commission of plans to grant or alter aid. The aid must not be granted until the Commission has reached a decision as to whether or not it is lawful. Council Regulation No. 659/99 lays down the procedure to be followed when a proposal to grant or alter aid is notified to the European Commission. Under this procedure, the Commission will carry out a preliminary examination. If it has concerns that there may be unlawful aid, it will proceed to a formal investigation, before deciding whether the aid is lawful.

37. If no clearance is obtained, what procedures apply to recover unlawfully granted state aid?

First, the European Commission should give notice to the parties concerned to submit their comments and provide further information about the aid. A decision is then made as to whether the aid is unlawful (following the procedure described above). Pending that decision, the European Commission may order the member state concerned to suspend the aid or provisionally recover it. If the European Commission finds that the aid is unlawful the member state concerned must abolish or alter it. If the state concerned does not comply with this decision, the European Commission or any other interested state may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice. The European Commission may also order a member state to recover illegally granted aid (including interest thereon).


38. Is there any aviation-specific passenger protection legislation?

The Civil Aviation (Denied Boarding, Compensation and Assistance) Regulations 2005 introduced common rules on denied boarding compensation and on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of cancellation or long delay of a flight.

The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 impose obligations to consumers on those organising and selling package holidays, as defined in the regulations.

The Civil Aviation (Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing) Regulations 1995, as amended, make provision for the licensing by the CAA of those who make available in the UK flight accommodation and for the financial protection and repatriation of passengers affected by the failure of a travel organiser.

The code of conduct for computerised reservation systems, introduced by Council Regulation No. 2299/89 and subsequently amended, applies to all computerised reservation systems containing air and rail transport products when offered for use or used in the EEA.

39. Are there mandatory insurance requirements to operate aircraft?

The UK has introduced the Civil Aviation (Insurance) Regulations 2005 to comply with its obligations under European Parliament and Council Regulation No. 785/04 on insurance requirements for air carriers and aircraft operators. These regulations imposed minimum insurance requirements on such carriers and operators in respect of liability for passengers, baggage, cargo and third parties.

40. What legal requirements are there with regard to aviation security?

Extensive powers with regard to aviation security are provided in the Aviation Security Act 1982 (the ASA), in regulations made thereunder, and in the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001. Under the ASA, the secretary of state can require information about aviation security from UK aircraft operators, aerodrome managers, occupiers of land forming part of an aerodrome, persons having access to a restricted zone and those responsible for air navigation installation. The secretary of state may also issue directions to such people about preventative measures which should be taken, designate certain areas as a restrictive zone and carry out an inspection of relevant territory for the purposes of the ASA. Regulations have also been made with a view to ensuring that air cargo agents demonstrate compliance with security regulations and to require the maintenance of a list of persons approved to provide a particular aviation security service.

Powers also extend to the detention of any aircraft in the UK and the restriction of access with foreign aircraft.

There are, in addition, detailed provisions in the ASA with regard to the policing of airports.

41. What serious crimes exist with regard to aviation?

A significant part of UK air law specifies that breach of regulations governing the use of an aircraft or aerodrome is punishable by a fine or imprisonment. Breach thus constitutes criminal activity and is a crime.

As to serious crimes such as hijacking, there are specific provisions in the ASA that create criminal offences punishable by life imprisonment. Hijacking is defined in section 1 as the seizure of, or exercise of control over, aircraft by the use of force or threats.

The ASA also creates the offence (also punishable by life imprisonment) of destroying, damaging or endangering the safety of aircraft. This offence includes the commission on board an aircraft in flight of any ‘act of violence’ that is likely to endanger the safety of an aircraft. An act of violence is defined as any act ‘which constitutes the offence of murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, culpable homicide or assault or an offence’ under specified sections of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 or under the Explosive Substances Act 1883.

There is also provision in section 4 of the ASA for the offence of carrying on aircraft dangerous articles. Dangerous articles for this purpose are firearms (including any article having the appearance of being a firearm, whether capable of being discharged or not), explosives and any other article made or adapted for use for causing injury to or incapacitating a person.

Update and trends

During the course of the market inquiry by the Competition Commission into the BAA-owned airports in south-east England and in Scotland, it has emerged as a virtual inevitability that the system of airport regulation in the UK (currently enshrined in the Airports Act 1986) will be overhauled. Such a development, and the probability that BAA will be required to divest itself of one south-east airport and another in Scotland, means that airport regulation will remain a hot topic through 2009.

The fuel price increases have presented airline managers with a host of difficult commercial decisions and, while the price remains high, regulatory issues are bound to arise as airlines grapple with enormous cost increases.

This article was first published in Getting the Deal Through – Air Transport 2009 (published in August 2008). For further information please visit