Airport operators face hefty fines for failing to keep their runways open during bad weather, under plans drawn up by ministers.
Transport minister Theresa Villiers wants to beef up the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA’s) power to act when flights are severely disrupted.
The measures are a response snow disruption at Gatwick and Heathrow airports in two separate incidents last December.
Villiers said the government would introduce legislation to back the new measures in the next parliamentary session − possibly next spring. Proposals would allow the CAA to inspect plans to respond to bad weather and force operators to strengthen inadequate arrangements.
“We all know [with] weather events that are as extreme as the two we got before Christmas there will be disruption, no matter how well we prepare.”
“Put simply, we’ll give the CAA the powers it needs to become a more responsive regulator throughout a control period, not just every five years,” Villiers said.
“I think we all know that when you get weather events that are as extreme as the two we got before Christmas there will be disruption of our transport system, no matter how well we prepare.”
“Yet there is also an acceptance that Heathrow could have and should have done better. The new licence regime would give the CAA much more flexible opportunities to check up on winter resilience plans, to hold airports to account and in cases of failure to levy penalties as well.”