New airport legislation promising to put passengers' needs first was published today by the Government.

The draft Civil Aviation Bill will replace the current economic regulation duties of the aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), with a single primary duty to promote the interests of passengers.

The CAA will be given more flexibility to set performance measures at major airports, encourage investment in improvements and provide passengers and other airport users with more information about airline and airport performance.

The CAA will be given powers to impose a range of penalties for breaching licence conditions - with fines of up to 10% of an airport's annual turnover.

The draft Bill will involve the transfer of certain aviation security functions, such as monitoring and enforcement, from central Government to the CAA which charges the industry for its activities.

However, the responsibility for setting aviation security policy and making aviation security directions to the industry will remain with the Transport Secretary.

The Government had originally announced its intention to introduce this Bill in the next session of Parliament. But an opportunity has arisen to introduce it earlier - most likely early next year.

Publishing the draft Bill today, Transport Secretary Justine Greening said: "The end user - in this case the needs of air passengers and businesses - must be at the heart of our transport networks.

"Whether going on holiday, flying for business or transporting goods by air, the customer experience at airports can make or break a trip.

"By and large, passengers give good feedback about airports, but they also say they want things like more seating, better information and additional baggage carousels at busy times.

"These are exactly the matters that the CAA will be able to address more effectively under its new powers.

"This Bill couples our commitment to make our airports better rather than bigger, with the Government's wider agenda on better regulation.

"It also complements our ongoing work to produce a sustainable policy framework for aviation, a draft of which will be published next spring."

CAA chief executive Andrew Haines said: "The draft Bill will ensure passengers are at the heart of the CAA's economic regulation of major airports.

"At present, we are hampered by a regulatory regime that is over 25 years old.

"The proposed legislation gives us a modern and flexible tool kit that will enhance our ability to ensure the passenger experience improves, as well as including reforms that will improve CAA governance and advance oversight of security regulation."