MPs back calls for BAA break-up

Calls by leading airlines for the break up of BAA and an overhaul of UK airport regulation have been backed by the House of Commons transport committee. It described BAA’s industry position as “bad for passengers”.

The company which owns Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted as well as Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Southampton airports is already facing a probe by the Competition Commission. Virgin Atlantic, easyJet, Ryanair and BMI have formed an alliance to force an overhaul of BAA (MW last week). It is understood to have gained the support of British Airways.

The transport committee said: “BAA’s monopoly position in the UK airports sector is unnecessary. Indeed, it is bad for passengers and bad for the aviation industry. There is room for more competition, especially between London airports. BAA airports account for such a large proportion of air travel.

“Ending BAA’s common ownership will encourage airports to compete for traffic. The committee firmly believes that increased competition is possible and could have huge benefits for both airlines and passengers.”

The Civil Aviation Authority, the body which approved the increases in airport charges, also says there is a “clear case” for regulatory reform, but that airport investments and service quality improvements will still need to be paid for.

It told the Competition Commission’s inquiry into BAA that the regulatory framework should be modified to bring it into line with “best practice” regulation.

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