The UK Government has enacted a new Civil Aviation Act law allowing the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to ensure that airports deliver better facilities, provide more information for passengers and prepare for disruptive events such as severe weather.
Aimed at delivering higher incentives for airports, the new act will also enhance the Air Travel Organisers' Licensing (ATOL) scheme that provides financial protection for holiday makers when tour operators go bust.
The UK aviation minister, Simon Burns, said that the move puts the passenger experience unequivocally at the heart of UK airport regulation.
"Aviation is vital for providing the UK with the connections we need to do business, travel for leisure and visit our friends and families around the world," Burns said.
"I am grateful for the cross-party support this act has received during its passage through parliament, ensuring passengers and those sending cargo can enjoy the benefits of this new regime as swiftly as possible."
With the expected launch of airport economic regulatory framework in April 2014, the CAA will be assigned with modified powers and responsibilities, such as single overriding duty to advance the interests of passengers and owners of cargo in the requirement of airport operation services.
The new act aims to create a flexible licensing regime for regulated airports that allows the CAA to incorporate licence conditions that mandate airports to respond more effectively during severe disruptions.
The agency will also be allowed to replace fixed price caps on airports with lighter touch forms of ruling and eliminate redundant central government interference from airport regulation.
The law empowers CAA to impose a sanction of 10% of an airport operator's annual turnover and daily amounts of 0.1% for violating terms of licence.
It further enables CAA to advance public information regarding the environmental effects of aviation and steps to be implemented to lessen adverse effects, while providing details on airline and airport performance levels.
Certain aviation security functions, currently being executed by the Department for Transport, will be conferred on to the CAA as part of the new law, and Secretary of State will be made responsible for directing aviation security and its policy.
The law offers a provision for UK Ministers to modify the ATOL holiday protection scheme, further allowing them to add holidays sold by airlines into the scheme, thereby strengthening consumer protection.