CAA airport plans won't let Lennon be

The future of Liverpool's John Lennon airport is under threat from plans to change the way rival Manchester airport is regulated, says its owner.

In a letter to the Civil Aviation Authority, property company Peel Holdings warns that the proposals for Manchester "place Liverpool at an unfair disadvantage and seriously prejudice its economic and profitable operation".

The letter claims that the CAA's proposals are in breach of the Airports Act as they could affect the performance of nearby airports.

The concern centres on the amount of money Manchester Airport can spend on enticing airlines to use its facilities. Manchester currently spends £6.2m a year but it is proposing to nearly triple the budget. The Competition Commission stepped in last year and said that the expenditure should be capped. But the CAA overruled this.

Teesside International Airport, owned by five local authorities, has also written to the CAA claiming the proposals would have a "serious impact on ... growth prospects".

This would again affect Peel. The company, which also owns the Trafford shopping centre, was selected by Teesside to develop an extension to the airport. As part of the deal, Peel will take a major stake in the airport.

In a further twist, Manchester Airport has written to the CAA warning that the proposals threaten its future. The airport is worried that plans to cap its charges to airlines are "challenging". It says that if there were a downturn in the number of UK flights, "trouble is in store ... which at the extreme will result in financial insolvency and regulatory failure". The CAA will make its ruling in March.

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