Watchdog vows to continue BAA break-up battle

Watchdog vows to continue BAA break-up battle

The Competition Commission says it will continue its attempt to break up BAA’s airport portfolio, following a ruling by the Competition Appeal Tribunal that the forced sale of Stansted was unfair.

The tribunal upheld a complaint by BAA that one of the Competition Commission’s panel members had a vested interest because he was also an adviser to the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, a shareholder of Manchester Airports Group.

The Competition Commission appeal was based on the grounds that it was wrong to conclude that there was any connection between the committee member and Manchester Airports Group.

The commission’s initial report found that BAA’s control of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted in London and of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen in Scotland had resulted in poor service for passengers and airlines.

BAA sold Gatwick for £1.5 billion last November.

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BAA also reported a 3.1 per cent drop in passenger numbers across its six airports in January, due to the bad weather. However, the group estimated that without the cold snap the drop would have been 0.3 per cent and that numbers at Heathrow would have grown by 2.5 per cent.

Colin Matthews, BAA chief executive, said: “There are encouraging signs of growth, particularly on the routes out of Heathrow to the Middle East and South America.”
The decline was largest in Scotland, where numbers at Aberdeen Airport fell by 13.6 per cent. Glasgow was down by 12.2 per cent and Edinburgh declined by 7.4 per cent.
Southampton fell 9.7 per cent, while Stansted was down 5.6 per cent and Heathrow down 0.5 per cent.