BAA looks almost certain to lose Stansted Airport after its latest appeal to quash the UK Competition Commission’s (CC) ruling was dismissed by the courts.
The Competition Appeal Tribunal today (February 1) dismissed BAA’s appeal against the watchdog’s ruling that the airport operator would have to sell Stansted to break up its monopoly on airports in the UK.
Today’s ruling is the latest development in an ongoing saga between BAA and the Competition Commission which stretches back to 2009 when the watchdog ruled that BAA had too much of a monopoly, and that it must divest some of its assets.
Since the decision was made that BAA must sell three of its then-seven UK airports, the company has now appealed against the decision, and failed, four times.
BAA currently owns Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports in Scotland, as well as Heathrow, Southampton and Stansted in England.
As part of the same ruling, BAA has already been ordered to sell one of its Scottish airports first. The operator announced in October last year that this would be Edinburgh Airport.
The sale process for the Scottish gateway is already underway, with a deal expected to be reached sometime in the summer.
Now the operator will have to start the process for London Stansted – the fourth busiest airport in the UK, handling 18 million passengers in 2011.
Meanwhile, BAA sold Gatwick Airport in 2009 for €1.65 billion and its stake in Naples Airport on October 2, 2010 for €150m.
BAA is owned by Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial.
Laura Carstensen, a member of the original CC inquiry in 2009, said: “Whilst BAA is of course entitled to explore the available avenues for challenge, it is now surely time for BAA to accept our findings and proceed with the necessary divestments.
“BAA is in the process of selling Edinburgh airport following our ruling. We will now press ahead to ensure that this is followed promptly by the sale of Stansted airport, to the benefit of passengers and airlines.”
In response to the decision, BAA said: “We are disappointed by the decision of the Competition Appeal Tribunal which we will now carefully consider before making any further statements.”