Budget airline easyJet loses High Court battle over fee increase at Gatwick Airport

EasyJet loses legal challenge over Gatwick fees

LONDON — Budget airline easyJet PLC lost its High Court battle to force a review of a sharp fee increase at Gatwick Airport, with a judge on Friday rejecting its claim that the rise was unfair and unlawful.

EasyJet had sought a judicial review of the fee changes, claiming that the Civil Aviation Authority acted illegally in allowing airport owner BAA to raise fees by 21 percent immediately, and even higher in the next five years.

The carrier, which accounts for 25 percent of all of Gatwick’s estimated 35 million passengers per year, said the fee structure approved by the CAA could push charges 50 percent higher than the current level by 2013.

It argued that the consultation process over the fee increase was flawed and there was a failure to follow the recommendations of Britain’s Competition Commission.

Justice Andrew Collins rejected the accusations, but gave the airline permission to appeal his ruling.

“It is understandable that the claimant has felt that what was done was unfair,” he said. “However, in the circumstances I do not think the CAA’s actions were in reality so unfair as to require the court to intervene.”

The airline now faces the prospect of having to pay legal costs for the Civil Aviation Authority and Gatwick Airport Ltd, which could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

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