BAA must sell two airports

THE Competition Commission yesterday again ruled that BAA should sell Stansted and either its Edinburgh or Glasgow airports, in a decision that is sure to spark a bidding war for the airports.

The decision backs one made in March 2009 which BAA successfully appealed on a technicality, but the court of appeal yesterday reinstated its original ruling.

BAA, which owns Heathrow, already sold Gatwick in October 2009 for £15bn to investment fund Global Infrastructure Partners.

Competition Commission chairman Peter Freeman said: “We remain convinced that the original decision to require BAA to divest three airports is the right one for passengers and airlines.”

But BAA argued against the ruling saying: “There has been a material change in circumstances” since the Commission’s report was published in March 2009.

The news about the forced sales came on a bad day for BAA, which is owned by Spanish infrastructure company Ferrovial.

Earlier, a confidential international table rating the aviation industry had ranked Heathrow 99 in a league table of the world’s main airports, behind the likes of hubs in Calcutta, Dublin and Humberside.

Ryanair, Europe’s biggest airline, welcomed the Commission’s decision.

It said: “Today is a great day for low fares and competition and a bad day for monopolies.”

The airline added: “We welcome the Competition Commission’s decision to proceed with the break-up of the BAA airport monopoly, and eagerly await the sale of Stansted and Glasgow airports.”