BAA again told to sell London, Scottish airports

The UK’s Competition Commission argues BAA should press ahead with the sale of London’s Stansted Airport and one of its Scottish airports, after the airports operator exhausted all legal appeals against further forced sales.

Ferrovial-owned airports operator BAA has been told by the UK’s Competition Commission (CC) to proceed with the sale of London’s Stansted Airport and either Glasgow or Edinburgh airports in Scotland.

The announcement comes after the UK’s highest court denied BAA permission to appeal against the sell-offs, bringing an end to a series of legal challenges mounted by BAA against the CC’s original 2009 ruling requiring it to sell three of its airports. 

The CC reiterated its decision “is fully justified” and added it sees “no reason to change the original timescale with the Stansted sale followed by sale of one of the Scottish airports,” it said in a statement.

The anti-trust body argues that there haven’t been “any material changes in circumstances since it published its final report on BAA in March 2009”, adding that, “if anything, the case has been strengthened as the conditions for airports sales have improved slightly since we originally decided to require them,” commented Peter Freeman, the CC’s chairman. 

Unsurprisingly, BAA doesn’t agree with Freeman: “We believe that there has been a material change in circumstances since the CC’s report was published in March 2009,” the airports operator responded in a statement. The CC is expected to publish its final verdict on the airport sales in May or June.

In addition to Stansted, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports, BAA also operates Heathrow, Southampton and Aberdeen airports in the UK. As part of the CC’s original decision, it was forced to sell Gatwick Airport, acquired by Global Infrastructure Partners in late 2009 for £1.5 billion (€1.7 billion; $2.4 billion).