The Government is consulting about a reform of the CAA's regulatory framework. In particular, it is proposing to focus the CAA more on safeguarding the public by giving it three objectives:

  1. pursuing the reasonable interests of consumers;
  2. securing a high standard of safety;
  3. securing environmental improvements in aviation where possible and appropriate when discharging its regulatory functions.

To back up its new role as champion of the consumer, it is proposed to give the CAA new sanctions and the power to publish comparative information on operators' services to enable consumers to make an informed choice. The ATOL scheme will also be revised and steps taken to ensure that consumers know whether or not their holiday is protected by the scheme. As a result of its proposed objectives, environmental issues will become a key concern for the CAA.

We think that there are three particular aspects of this consultation upon which airlines should focus:

  1. the CAA's historic duty to carry out its statutory functions in the manner best calculated to secure the sound development of the industry would be abolished The CAA would be required to consider the consumer interest (as well as safety and the environment).
  2. the CAA would have specific enforcement powers which would enable it to levy fines directly rather than going through the courts.
  3. in trying to "simplify" the ATOL procedure, the DfT are pursuing a "flight plus" option which would bring airlines into the ATOL Scheme for the first time.

The Consultation Period runs until 11 March 2010: the Department for Transport have said that it will not be possible to extend this deadline for receipt of Submissions so there is little time left for contributing to the debate.

The consultation paper can be found at: www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/open/regulatingairtransport