Luton Airport ruling favours Arriva
Justice Rose of the High Court has delivered a ruling in the case involving Arriva and Luton Airport (Luton Operations) where Arriva took the airport to court over what it believes is an unfair decision to award the contract to operate the 757 route between the airport and Victoria Coach station, previously run by Arriva’s Green Line operation, to National Express last year. The ‘New Concession’ agreement between National Express and Luton Operations saw the new operator take over on 1 May 2013 and is scheduled to last until 30 April 2020.
The Court ruled that Luton Operations did not abuse its dominant position in the way in which it conducted the tender for awarding the New Concession but by entering into the New Concession agreement with National Express, Luton Operations did abuse its dominant position because of the terms it set out. It granted a seven year exclusivity period to National Express, gave National Express a right of first refusal on services to new destinations in London and discriminated in favour of easyBus by excluding its small vehicle operations from the exclusivity. The Court ruled this seriously distorts competition between coach operators wanting to provide services from the airport’s bus station with no objective justification for that distortion of competition.
However, the High Court judgment has left a number of issues unresolved. These include whether Luton Operations are in fact dominant; the terms of any injunction to be granted; the quantification of any damages suffered by Arriva and whether any other relief is appropriate. Justice Rose has not heard argument on any of these matters and they are to be addressed at a later date.
An Arriva spokesperson said, ‘We welcome the outcome of the case and for the judgement given by Justice Rose. Green Line has more than 30 years’ experience providing services from Luton Airport and we remain focused on developing our services so we can deliver quality opportunities for passengers wanting to travel between Luton and London.’