The journey passengers face in getting to and from UK airports can be a significant part of the cost of any flight,
we call this journey 'surface access'.
We undertook a review of surface access to UK airports to better understand how it operates and how that affects
consumers, focusing primarily on road-based access to airports, including transport-providers' access to the airport
forecourt and how parking products are distributed online. We recognised that the availability of rail modes is
important to understand competitive conditions at UK airports, but we did not review that aspect of surface
In December 2016, we published the Final report of our review, which
summarises the responses received to our consultation and presents our conclusions. Overall, we found that the
sector appears to be relatively dynamic, with a variety of businesses active in providing surface access services of
different types to passengers.
The two main topics we looked at in the surface access review were:
From January to April 2016, we consulted stakeholders on the findings of
our initial research into the sector with the aim of gathering views and further information from the aviation and
surface access industries, as well as organisations representing both those industries and consumers. We received
39 responses, which are available below:
The review concluded that the range of choice available to passengers varied considerably by airport.
Passengers travelling to and from large urban airports generally benefit from greater choice compared with those using
smaller airports or airports with poorer transport links.
The review identified a number of concerns regarding business practices that have the potential to infringe the
competition prohibitions under competition law and certain aspects of consumer law. However, we did not consider
we had, at that time, sufficient grounds for a Market Study under the Enterprise Act 2002. Also, we did not
consider we have, at that time, sufficient grounds for an investigation under competition or consumer law.
However, not commencing a market study or a competition or consumer law infringement investigation, at this time, does
not stop us from doing so in the future.
As a result, we decided to write an Advisory Letter to UK airport operators, surface access operators and
relevant trade associations setting out these concerns. We encouraged all market participants to review their
practices and ensure they are compliant with competition and consumer law now and in the future.
In related development, the CAA has recently found that East Midlands International Airport, and its parent company
Manchester Airport Group, and Prestige Parking Ltd infringed the Chapter I prohibition of the Competition Act 1998 by
participating in an agreement between October 2007 and September 2012 (at the latest) to fix the minimum prices that
Prestige charged its customers for car parking services at the airport. We have referred to
this decision in the review’s Final Report.
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