March 19, 2009

BAA ordered to sell three airports

The Competition Commission in Britain has ordered BAA to sell three of its airports, including Gatwick and Stansted, within two years.

The commission even chose a pecking order, demanding the airport operator, which runs seven airports, sell Gatwick first, then Stansted, followed by either Edinburgh or Glasgow, The Daily Mail reported Thursday.

The decision comes after a two-year investigation into BAA's operation and its impact on competition.

We are confident that the sale of these airports will bring substantial benefits to passengers and airlines, said Christopher Clarke, who led the investigation.

New owners will have much greater incentive than BAA to be more responsive to their customers, Clarke said in The Daily Mail article.

BAA said it would study the commission's report before responding but Chief Executive Officer Colin Mathews said the company may have to contest the ruling on economic grounds.

It is not just a question of whether we agree or not with the Competition Commissioner's analysis, it is also a question of the practicalities of selling three airports in the current, extraordinarily tough (conditions), he said to the newspaper.