easyJet has welcomed the announcement from the
UK’s Office of Fair Trading to consider an inquiry into the UK airports market with
a view to establishing whether the current market structure works well for
consumers.Andrew Barker, easyJet Planning Director, commented today on the OFT’s announcement:
“We are very pleased that the OFT is taking a close look at whether the UK airports
market works well for consumers. We have been asking for this review for a long time
and look forward to providing overwhelming evidence that BAA is not acting in
anything like the interests of the travelling public. No company should control over
90 per cent of London airport capacity and a similar amount in Scotland.
BAA is a dominant player and operates in a near-monopoly environment. As a
consequence, BAA can bank high profits which have to be paid for by passengers
without the healthy pressure of competition.
The fact that BAA is already regulated indicates that the Government recognises its
dominant position. However, these regulations do not go far enough to ensure that
the interests of airlines and the flying public are adequately represented.”
The OFT rightly points out that BAA owns and operates airports which handled 63 per
cent of UK air passengers in 2005. Within the London area, this figure rises to 92
per cent of all air passengers and within Scotland to 86 per cent of all air
passengers last year. easyJet has operational bases at ten UK airports, including
the three London airports; Gatwick, Stansted and Luton and the Scottish airports
Glasgow International and Edinburgh. BAA’s profits for the last reporting period
were £660 million.