August 20, 2008
Airports ‘in Shake-Up’
COMPETITION chiefs are expected to pave the way for a major shake- up of the ownership of some of the UK's biggest airports.
In a preliminary report published today, the Competition Commission is likely to recommend a break-up of airport operator BAA's "monopoly" of south east England airports which comprise Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.
The commission will also give its views on BAA's ownership of its four other UK airports - Southampton, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.
In a document published in April this year, the CC said that BAA's common ownership of the UK airports "may not be serving well the interests of either airlines or passengers".
Last weekend, BAA chairman Sir Nigel Rudd said he expected the commission to recommend the sell-off of Gatwick or Stansted - or both - together with one of his company's Scottish airports.
It is believed that a number of international firms are interested in taking over Gatwick should BAA be forced to end its stewardship of the West Sussex airport.
One of the possible buyers could be the UK's Manchester Airport Group.
Sir Nigel said that any break-up of the BAA UK airport empire would not be a disaster for the company but would do little to increase competition at Heathrow, the UK's biggest and most important airport.
He said Heathrow did not compete with Gatwick or Stansted or with non-BAA airports such as Luton or Manchester but competed with the likes of Paris Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam's Schipol.
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