The High Court has dismissed easyJet’s claim that the Civil Aviation Authority’s (the CAA) decision of March 2008 on the price controls at Gatwick Airport was legally flawed. In March 2008 the CAA published a decision document on the price controls for Heathrow and Gatwick airports from 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2013. This had followed two and half years of consultation with the industry. One of the measures it introduced was an increase in the maximum amount airlines could charge passengers at Gatwick. This represented a 21% increase in real terms from the previous year’s price cap. The CAA had claimed that the increase in airport charges was to pay for essential modernisation and improvements in services at Gatwick, including additional security costs at the airport.
easyJet brought an action (for judicial review) to challenge the CAA's decision in relation to CAA's price control at Gatwick. One of the main issues in dispute was the approach that the CAA had taken to the cost of security measures in calculating the price cap. Further, easyJet claimed that although there was consultation on the proposals, it had not been given a chance to comment on further information provided by Gatwick after the consultation period. easyJet claimed that the CAA had acted unfairly and unlawfully by taking account of this information. easyJet also claimed that the CAA had unlawfully failed to follow certain recommendations of the Competition Commission.
The High Court found that the CAA did not act unfairly by seeking further information from BAA after the consultation period had ended. The High Court concluded that the CAA needed the additional information to enable it to arrive at a decision, that the CAA gave consideration to all relevant material and that the CAA was entitled to conclude that it would not have been assisted by any additional consultation/representations from the airlines after the conclusion of the consultation period. The High Court also rejected claims that the CAA had acted unlawfully in not following certain recommendations of the Competition Commission in relation to aspects of the price control.