The Chairman of airport operating group BAA has stated that he is anticipating the Competition Commission will force it to split up its seven-strong UK airport collection.
Sir Nigel Rudd added that he expected that BAA – the owner of London Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Southampton airports - would be made to sell a minimum of two of these sites.
It was likely, said Sir Nigel, that the two sites in question would be one of either Stansted/ Gatwick, or Edinburgh/ Glasgow.
BAA itself has faced criticism in respect of the levels of service provided at its airports, as well as the charges imposed on airlines operating from them. Furthermore, many are concerned that the number of airports under its ownership – and their geographical proximity to each other – has led to it monopolising a large chunk of the UK airport market. Linked to this are concerns that debt-heavy BAA is unable to carry out multiple development projects, meaning capacity issues arise.
Competition Commission Report
The BAA situation has led to the Competition Commission carrying out an inquiry, and the results of this are anticipated to be released in coming days. In many quarters, the expectation is that, in this report, the CC will state that, by owning seven prominent UK airports, BAA is not acting in the best interests of the public.
"[Based on] all the things that I'm hearing, it looks like they will announce that", Sir Nigel admitted.
BAA’s owner – Spanish group Ferrovial – had already received “huge expressions of interest” in terms of acquiring Stansted/ Gatwick, he added, even though the sites are not on the market.
While the sale of these sites would not paralyse BAA, Sir Nigel rejected claims that, once the sales has gone ahead, competition would be increased.
"Heathrow does not compete with Gatwick and does not compete with Stansted or Luton or Manchester”, he explained.
“It competes with [Paris] Charles de Gaulle, Dubai now and Schiphol [Amsterdam], because these are big international hub airports so the ownership of the airports has nothing to do with competition."
Airport International intends to provide continued coverage of the BAA airport situation once the Commission has released its report.
Source – Airport International’s London Reporter