On 7 April 2018 the UK Department for Transport (DfT) published the results of its consultation into the future of UK aviation following a call for evidence in July 2017. The aviation strategy will set the direction for UK aviation policy to 2050 and beyond. The government will hold a further consultation on policy detail later this year and aims to publish the final strategy in early 2019.
The government will use the new aviation strategy to address whether there is a need to promote further competition within the marketplace, as part of the aim to achieve a “safe, secure and sustainable aviation sector that meets the needs of consumers and of a global, outward-looking Britain”. A number of issues raised in the call for evidence are addressed, including the importance of consumer choice, the challenge of delivering future airport capacity beyond 2030, the need for airspace modernisation, the importance of environmental and noise concerns and the continued success of the aviation industry post-Brexit. The latter will involve a review of the UK’s air service agreements to ensure that they continue to drive competition.
Areas flagged for further review include the emergence of single dominant carriers at airports, the market in ground handling services and the UK terminal air navigation services market. For the air navigation market, the DfT requested that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) review whether the sector is subject to the right level of market conditions at relevant UK airports. The CAA’s draft finding suggests that appropriate market conditions do exist, although the final advice is expected to be published in May 2018.
The industry will also be consulted on the rules for the allocation of new capacity as part of the government’s analysis of existing airport slot regulation and on potential reform to Air Passenger Duty. The DfT has invited views on the options available to deliver the objectives of aviation expansion, including increasing domestic connectivity, opening access to new global markets and increasing competition on existing routes.