Skip to main content

UK Airports

Volume 527: debated on Thursday 5 May 2011

7. What improvements his Department is seeking to achieve in respect of the passenger experience at UK airports. (54160)

The south-east airports taskforce is looking at ways to improve efficiency, tackle queues and reduce delays at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. It is due to report in July.

I commend the Secretary of State and the Minister for their active and robust campaign to improve the passenger experience. I think that it has improved in recent months, particularly at Heathrow, but I polled my constituents and many of them disagree. Greg Taylor said:

“Compared to Asian airports…Heathrow is a disgrace”,

and James Max complained about

“bad baggage reclaim…expensive food and parking…poor public transport”.

How can my constituents get more involved in the process of improving the experience at Heathrow and other airports?

My hon. Friend is right to give credit to Heathrow for real improvements over recent years. Although terminal 5 started pretty badly, it is now a high-quality facility, and the airport will be investing in a major redevelopment of other terminals, hopefully to bring them up to the same standards. But more needs to be done, which is why we will modernise the airport regulatory framework to put passengers at the heart of the system, to give the Civil Aviation Authority the power to intervene where airports fail their passengers, and to incentivise the sort of investment in improvement, to baggage handling and terminals, for example, that his constituents clearly want. We are also introducing a new consumer panel at the CAA to improve passengers’ ability to influence the regulation of the airport.