December 18, 2008

BAA tosses new runway into airport bidding

Secret plans sent out by Spanish-owned BAA call for a new runway at Gatwick Airport in Britain, in spite of the government's intentions.

BAA, under pressure from the Competition Commission to sell Gatwick, sent bidders for the airport a confidential memorandum entitled Gatwick builds a second runway, The Times of London reported Thursday.

The government has said it prefers a new runway at Stansted Airport, followed by one at Heathrow, the Times said.

But, the commission said the government was interfering with the open market.

The government should ensure that the aviation national policy statement does not unduly constrain this market, the commission said.

A new runway at Gatwick would displace 300 homes and subject 26,000 residents to jet noise above 54 decibels. A new Heathrow runway, however, would subject 118,000 residents to increased noise, the Times said.

BAA owns London's three largest airports. It is trying to sell one before the commission orders it to do so, the Times said.

Bidders for Gatwick include the Manchester Airports Group, Hochtief AirPort from Germany and the Vancouver Airports Authority, the Times said.