British watchdog confirms BAA airports sale ruling

30th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain's competition watchdog on Wednesday reiterated its ruling for Spanish-owned airports operator BAA to sell two more airports including London Stansted.

The Competition Commission had ordered BAA two years ago to sell London Gatwick and Stansted, as well as Edinburgh or Glasgow airport, within a two-year timeframe.

BAA, bought by Spanish construction group Ferrovial in 2006, subsequently sold Gatwick to US investment fund Global Infrastructure Partners for 1.51 billion pounds in late 2009.

"BAA should still be required to sell Stansted Airport and Edinburgh or Glasgow Airport, the Competition Commission (CC) has provisionally concluded today," the watchdog said in a new statement on Wednesday.

"The CC has been considering whether there have been any material changes in circumstances since it published its final report on BAA in March 2009 that should give it cause to reconsider the implementation of the airport sales required by that original decision."

It added: The CC has provisionally concluded that the sale of the airports is fully justified and that passengers and airlines would still benefit from greater competition with the airports under separate ownership."

BAA operates six airports in Britain -- London's Heathrow and Stansted airports, as well as Southampton in southern England and Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland.

"We found that, if anything since the (2009) report, there now appears to be greater capacity available which will increase the potential for competition between the London airports," added CC chairman Peter Freeman.

"The introduction of new ownership at Gatwick, whilst too recent for us to base any conclusions on, has also given a foretaste of the benefits competition can bring."

BAA had mounted a legal challenge to the original CC ruling, but the Court of Appeal endorsed the findings in October 2010 and the Supreme Court has refused BAA permission to appeal further.

© 2011 AFP

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