BAA to sell Stansted Airport, ending long legal battle

Written on:August 20, 2012
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Stansted Airport

Stansted is London’s third and the UK’s fourth busiest airport

BAA has finally decided to sell of Stansted Airport, giving up its long legal battle which began in March 2007 when the Office of Fair Trading referred BAA airport services to the Competition Commission.

“Having carefully considered the Court of Appeal’s recent ruling, BAA has decided not to appeal to the Supreme Court and is now proceeding with the sale of Stansted airport,” BAA said in a statement.

The Competition Commission (CC) in 2009 has originally ruled that BAA must sell Gatwick, Stansted and one of its Scottish airports because of the lack of competition between London airports.

BAA was also ordered to sell either its Edinburgh or Glasgow hubs in Scotland. British airport operator, BAA, subsequently sold its Gatwick and Edinburgh hubs to the US investment fund Global Infrastructure Partners. However, BAA managed to hold on to London’s Heathrow airport.

BAA’s challenge to the Competition Commission (CC) ruling was last month rejected by Britain’s Court of Appeal and it was expected to take the case to Britain’s Supreme Court.

BAA said it had decided not to challenge the Stansted ruling in the Supreme Court, the last opportunity it had to appeal, adding that it believed that the CC ruling fails to “recognise that Stansted and Heathrow serve different markets.”

The sale of Stansted Airport is part of a drive by Britain’s competition regulator to loosen BAA’s grip on the UK airports market. Stansted, which handled 18 million passengers last year, is London’s third and the UK’s fourth busiest airport.

BAA, which originally ran seven UK airports, will now handle just four – Heathrow, Southampton, Glasgow and Aberdeen – after the Stansted sale is concluded.

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