Brick Court QC seals Ryanair victory in Gatwick ground charges face-off

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has ruled that Gatwick Airport’s ­baggage handling and check-in charges are unfair, forcing it to revise the fees.

Nabarro partner Peter Fitzpatrick instructed Brick Court Chambers’ Daniel Jowell QC to lead the legal fight for Ryanair against Gatwick Airport.

It argued that charges for check-in and baggage facilities were inherently unfair on clients and breached EU regulations on access to the ground handling market at EU airports.
Under the regulations the managing body of an airport is required to take the necessary measures to ensure that any fee charged for access to airport installations is determined according to relevant, objective, transparent and non-discriminatory criteria.

Ryanair said passengers who booked online and brought with them hand luggage should not be charged the same as those who used airport check-in facilities.

Herbert Smith partner Julian Copeman instructed Mark Hoskins QC, also of Brick Court, for Gatwick.

The CAA upheld the appeal on the grounds that Gatwick’s internet check-in charge was not based on objective criteria.

Over time Ryanair had increased its share of ­passengers carrying no hold baggage but Gatwick had not reviewed its relative check-in charges.

The criteria Gatwick applied to formulating the charges were not transparent and users were unable to gain an understanding of how precisely their charges had been calculated.

However, the CAA rejected claims that the ’bundling’ of check-in and baggage related charges was, of itself, evidence of discriminatory conduct.