London (AFP) Dec 26, 2010
British ministers said Sunday they wanted to introduce new laws to allow regulators to fine airports for travel disruption, after a pre-Christmas cold snap all but shut down Heathrow Airport last week.
Philip Hammond, the transport minister, told the Sunday Times that regulators should have tougher powers to punish airports who fail passengers, after thousands were forced to sleep at Heathrow when heavy snow grounded flights.
"There should be an economic penalty for service failure," he said. "Greater weight needs to be given to performance and passenger satisfaction."
Hammond said it was unacceptable that BAA, the Spanish-owned operator of Heathrow -- the world's busiest airport for international passenger traffic -- would face no punishment from the regulator under the current system.
At the moment, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) can only impose fines in specific categories, such as for how long passengers queue at security, seating availability and cleanliness.
Terminals at Heathrow Airport were turned into dormitories for several days in the run-up to Christmas as angry passengers unable to fly were forced to spend the night on luggage trays used as makeshift beds.
Most flights are now operating normally but the shutdown caused outrage, with Prime Minister David Cameron at one point stepping in to offer military assistance to the operator, which BAA declined.
The Department for Transport confirmed it was looking at options for new legislation, and junior transport minister Theresa Villiers said this would give regulators powers to intervene between regular five-year reviews.
"The regulator would have the chance to get involved to work out whether the airport is performing well enough in the face of winter resilience, whether it has prepared well enough, and whether it has let passengers down or not," she told BBC News.
"It (the legislation) would give the regulator the power to fine an airport where it does let passengers down and doesn't prepare properly for severe weather conditions."
The regulator could also be given powers to step in when an airport is not working effectively, the Sunday Times reported.
"Because airports are ultimately strategic infrastructure, we probably need to have as a very last resort some powers to intervene in the way we don't have at the moment, except where safety and security are concerned," Hammond said.
BAA has launched an inquiry into the Heathrow snow chaos and chief executive Colin Matthews has said he is not taking his bonus this year.
A spokeswoman for BAA said Sunday: "We welcome legislation designed to improve the experience for passengers at the UK's airports."
She added: "We will of course play a full part in the government's discussions about this year's weather disruption and will make public the findings of our own independent investigation."
The firm will also invest 10 million pounds (15 million dollars, 12 million euros) in new snow equipment after claims that it did not have enough ploughs to clear its runways, BAA chairman Nigel Rudd told the Sunday Telegraph.
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Aerospace News at SpaceMart.com
China's Shandong Airlines to buy 15 Boeing planes
Shanghai (AFP) Dec 24, 2010
China's Shandong Airlines said Friday it plans to buy 15 Boeing passenger planes worth up to 1.2 billion dollars amid fast-growing demand for air travel in the increasingly prosperous country. The catalogue price of each Boeing 737-800 aircraft is between 75 million dollars and 80 million dollars but the US aerospace giant is offering unspecified price concessions, the airline told the Shenz ... read more
Ever-Sharp Urchin Teeth May Yield Tools That Never Need Honing|
Tablet computers come of age with iPad mania
New Kindle becomes Amazon's all-time best seller
Chilean airline opts for secure upgrade
IBCS Completes Warfighter-Centered Design Exercises
Arianespace Will Orbit Sicral 2 Milcomms Satellites
Codan Receives JITC Certification For 2110 HF Manpack
Northrop Grumman Bids for Marine Corps Common Aviation CnC
ISRO Puts Off GSLV Launch
Arianespace To Launch ESA's First Sentinel Satellite
ISRO Set To Launch Heaviest Satellite For Telecom And TV
The Flight Of The Dragon
Launch Of New Russian Navigation Satellite Postponed To Next Year
Galileo's Navigation Control Hub Opens In Fucino
China Launches Seventh Orbiter For Indigenous Global SatNav System
Universal Address And GPS Enhanced Google Maps For iPhones
Russia starts probe as airport chaos sparks protests
Britain mulls law to fine airports after Heathrow chaos
China's Shandong Airlines to buy 15 Boeing planes
China opens skies to private air transport
Better Control Of Building Blocks For Quantum Computer
S.Korea's Hynix says chip price slump will hit Q4 profit
Making Wafers Faster By Making Features Smaller
Mexico Quake Studies Uncover Surprises For California
Plant Consumption Rising Significantly As Population And Economies Grow
NASA Satellite Data Addresses Needs Of California Growers
Satellites Give An Eagle Eye On Thunderstorms
Australia calls Denmark waste ship U-turn 'unfortunate'
Denmark cancels Australian toxic waste shipment
Ecology watchdog warns of future damage from Hungary spill
The Sweetness of Biodegradable Plastics
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|