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Competition Commission to push through BAA airport sale

Competition Commission to push through BAA airport sale

Airport operator BAA will be forced to sell London Stansted and one of its Scottish properties following a further decision by the Competition Commission.

“No material changes” were founded in circumstances since the commission published its final report on BAA in March 2009, prompting the government body to reject appeals against its decision.

In February, the Supreme Court refused BAA permission to appeal further, with the commission now expected to invite responses before publishing its final verdict in May/June.

“We remain convinced the original decision to require BAA to divest three airports is the right one for passengers and airlines,” read a Competition Commission statement.

“We have re-examined that decision in the light of a significant subsequent development when the government decided to rule out further runways at London’s airports.

“Having examined the case closely, we are clear that many benefits will still arise with-out that expansion, by increasing competition and addressing detrimental effects from BAA’s common ownership.”

BAA owns Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen Airports in Scotland, as well as London Heathrow, Southampton and Stansted in England.

“We found that, if anything since the report, there now appears to be greater capacity available which will increase the potential for competition between the London airports,” added the Competition Commission.

BAA was forced to sell Gatwick Airport in December 2009 to a consortium led by Global Infrastructure Partners.

While no timescale has been put in place for the sales, the commission argued “passengers and airlines should not have to wait indefinitely”.

However, it did concede to allow the airports to be sold in sequence with a small overlap between the two sales periods with Stansted to be sold first as it serves the larger number of passengers who will benefit.