Flybe hits out at Gatwick Airport's 'ludicrous' landing charges
Flybe has criticised "ludicrous" landing charges at Gatwick Airport after its complaint about a sharp hike in the fees was rejected.
The Exeter-based airline had complained to the UK Civil Aviation Authority about the London airport's decision to increase summer landing charges by 62.5 per cent, while winter charges were reduced to zero. Other charges were kept at the same level.
Flybe complained that structuring charges in this manner unreasonably discriminated against it and other operators of small aircraft at Gatwick.
The CAA found that although the revised charges – which came into effect in April 2011 – discriminate against airlines using small aircraft, the discrimination was not unreasonable, because Gatwick's objective of increasing the efficient use of its single runway justified the changes.
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A Flybe spokesman said: "We are now in the frankly ludicrous position that Gatwick charge the same amount of landing fee to our 78-seater turboprop as they do to an A380, which could have 800 passengers aboard."
The CAA ruled that while some passengers may be harmed by the changes to Gatwick's charging structure, the numbers involved are likely to be small and the adverse effects would be balanced by benefits to other passengers.
The airline's spokesman added: "Flybe is obviously disappointed that the CAA, after some two years of consideration, found that Gatwick were within their rights to discriminate against operators of small, regional aircraft by means of significant landing fee rises and we will continue to press the Government to correct such a system.
"Flybe is pleased, but perplexed, by the CAA's admission that passengers have been and will be harmed by Gatwick's policy, though we strongly disagree with the CAA's findings on the extent of this harm.
"Flybe also notes Gatwick's recent change of charging policy for 2013/14 (applying increased charges to all aeronautical charges and not just loading landing charges), which followed our complaint, and we question whether this now supports Flybe's assertion all along, that the policy did indeed have a negative impact on regional access to London."