Ryanair bows out of Stansted Airport auction

Marion Dakers
RYANAIR yesterday dropped its efforts to buy a stake in Stansted, blaming the airport’s owner Ferrovial for refusing to engage.

The budget carrier has written to all of its potential bidding partners to withdraw from the process, citing “Ferrovial’s decision to exclude Ryanair from the Stansted sale”.

Ryanair had been looking to take a 25 per cent stake in the airport as part of a consortium.

“While we fully accept that Ferrovial is entirely free not to sell to Ryanair, we fail to understand how it can comply with competition law if Stansted’s biggest customer, accounting for 70 per cent of the traffic, is excluded from this sale process,” said Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara.

A spokesperson for BAA, the airport operator controlled by Ferrovial, said the firm would not comment on any aspect of the sale process.

Possible buyers linked to Stansted so far include Manchester Airports Group as well as a string of banks and investment funds. Analysts expect the sale to bring in up to £1bn, with offers due by the end of the month.

BAA said in August it would sell off Stansted, after it lost a battle in the Court of Appeal to keep the London airport amid competition concerns.

The firm had been winding its way through the appeals system since 2009, when the Competition Commission ruled that the airport and others in Scotland must be sold off.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary is a long-standing critic of the way Stansted is run, calling often for costs to be cut and slamming the “blatant mismanagement” of abandoned plans for a second runway.

“The only way Stansted’s traffic decline can be reversed is if its uncompetitive charges are significantly reduced, initially by reversing the disastrous 100 per cent price increase imposed by the BAA monopoly at Stansted in 2007,” the firm said yesterday.