Airlines welcome BAA referral to watchdog

British Airways and easyJet have said that they welcome the move by the U.K.‘s competition commission—the Office of Fair Trading—to refer Ferrovial’s airport unit BAA to the antitrust regulator.

Airlines plan to submit their comments during the next stage of consultation.

“We welcome this,” said Andy Harrison, easyJet’s Chief executive.

“But the ownership of BAA it is not the biggest issue.  What the OFT needs to look at is that all the BAA’s London arpots are local monopolies which need much more stringent price regulation. Changing the ownership of BAA will not alter this fundamental structural problem.”

In a statement, the OFT said a study of the U.K. airports market had found that BAA airports handle 90% of passenger trips in the south east of England and that these airports could operate under separate ownership to attract passengers. Without competition, planned investment in these airports could be inefficient, it said.

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It added that its referral of BAA to the Competition Commission is provisional and it is inviting comments before reaching a final conclusion.
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