BAA could be forced to sell airports

BAA may be forced to sell three of its seven airports over concerns about its “near monopoly”. The Competition Commission has recommended that the airport operator sells two of its London airports and either Glasgow or Edinburgh. 

The Commission says that current ownership structure is having “adverse consequences” for passengers and airlines. The operator has a share of 91% of all airport passengers in the southeast England, where is owns Heathrow, Gatwick, Stanstead and Southampton airports. 

Despite its dominance, BAA’s Spanish owner Ferrovial has been widely criticised for delays and poor customer service. 

The recommendations come four months after the anti-trust body published initial findings from an investigation into the BAA, which claims that its dominant position limits competition and contributed to a shortage in capacity. The ruling will be subject to a consultation process, but is likely to be rubber-stamped by the Commission in its final report early next year. 

BAA describes the regulator’s verdict as “flawed” and says the forced sales would be “counter-productive” but it has immediately confirmed that it has “no intention” of selling Heathrow, its largest airport. 

Airlines including Virgin Atlantic, Easyjet and Ryanair applauded the regulator’s ruling. The airports are expected to attract interest from Aeroports de Paris, Australia’s Macquarie Airports and Frankfurt’s Fraport AG if it BAA is forced to sell off sites.

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