BAA Told To Sell Scottish Airport Before Stansted

October 8, 2011

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Britain's Competition Commission on Friday told UK airport operator BAA that it must sell one of its Scottish airports before it disposes of London Stansted airport.

BAA, which is majority owned by Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial, last month said it would seek a judicial review of the UK competition watchdog's ruling requiring it to sell off Stansted and either Glasgow or Edinburgh airport in Scotland.

"In view of the real risk of delay arising as a result of this second appeal and also given the fact that BAA is not challenging the Scottish airport sale, the CC has now decided that it would be in the interests of affected passengers and airlines to proceed with the sale of either Glasgow or Edinburgh Airport first," the Competition Commission said in a statement.

The watchdog said it expects the sale process to begin shortly, following a decision from BAA over which of the two Scottish airports it wishes to sell.

The CC had originally told BAA to dispose of Stansted airport first.

BAA -- the owner of London Heathrow, Europe's busiest -- said it would reveal which of Edinburgh or Glasgow airports it will sell shortly.

"BAA has already sold Gatwick and will now sell either Edinburgh or Glasgow airport. Both Edinburgh and Glasgow are great airports with great futures and we will be sorry to see one of them leave BAA," the company's chief executive Colin Matthews said.

"We will continue with our judicial review proceedings against the Competition Commission's decision requiring BAA to sell Stansted."

The CC's decision followed a two-year battle between BAA and the CC after the CC ruled in 2009 that BAA exerted a dominant hold on British airports and told it to sell Gatwick and Stansted airports and one of its Scottish airports.

Gatwick has already been sold but Matthews believes being forced to sell the other airports is unfair because the prevailing economic conditions means they will not fetch a fair price and because the airports market in the south east of England has changed.

"It is clearer now than it has ever been that Heathrow and Stansted serve different markets," said Matthews.

(Reuters)