The Competition Commission has reported that airport operating group BAA's ownership of seven airports in the UK "may not be serving well the interests of either airlines or passengers."
This statement, it delivered in a keenly-anticipated "emerging thinking" report, issue on the 22nd April. BAA, said the CC, "dominates the airports markets in the south-east of England and in lowland Scotland".
BAA Airport Sales
A subsequent report is scheduled for release in four months time, at which point BAA may be told to put some of the seven airports in its charge up for sale.
The seven airports owned by BAA are London Heathrow, London Gatwick and London Stansted, and Southampton, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
The commission emphasised that no definitive conclusions had yet been reached, but said that it would lay out its solutions to issues arising from competition in the next report, "whether requiring the sale of one or more of BAA's airports or otherwise".
BAA airports inquiry chairman, Christopher Clarke, added: "We are particularly concerned by its (BAA's) apparent lack of responsiveness to the differing needs of its airline customers, and hence passengers."
Another concern for Mr Clarke was the fact that, with BAA owning seven airports, large developments were being undertaken on an individual basis.
When, 21 years ago, BAA gained ownership of the London airport triumvirate - Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick - said Mr Clarke, it was intended that the south-east of Britain would have sufficient airport capacity. However, he stated, capacity was still lacking.
The CC pointed out that airport competition in the south-east was improbable in the near future, owing to this lack of capacity, but said, simultaneously, that growth potential could result with airports under different ownership.
Competition potential, it added, also existed between Southampton, and London Heathrow and Gatwick.
North of the border, said the CC, competition potential existed between Glasgow and Edinburgh, but not so much so in the case of Aberdeen.
Source - Airport International's London Reporter