BAA loses legal bid to keep Stansted

UK airport owner BAA has been told it must sell Stansted airport and either Edinburgh or Glasgow in Scotland, in the final ruling from the competition watchdog.

BAA, owned by Spanish infrastructure giant Ferrovial, had challenged the Competition Commission’s 2009 decision that it must sell three of its airports to improve competition in the sector.

It sold Gatwick for £1.5bn in 2009 but refused to sell further airports until it had pursued a legal challenge.

BAA had argued that the airports market had changed dramatically since the commission’s 2009 decision, while it was investing £1bn a year in its UK airports.

Its chief executive Colin Matthews said it was “dismayed” by the ruling.

“The Competition Commission has not recognised that the world and BAA have changed. This decision would damage our company, which is investing strongly in UK jobs and growth,” he said.

“We have a responsibility to protect our shareholders' investment and we will now consider a judicial review of the Competition Commission's decision.”

But the Commission report said the changes BAA had outlined were not material enough to alter its ruling.

“We are not persuaded that changes (if any) in the intensity of competition to attract LCCs or in Heathrow's position as a hub airport or in Stansted’s profitability or the fact that Gatwick has been sold represent significant changes of circumstances,” it said.