After BAA put up Stansted Airport for sale yesterday, after losing a three-year long legal battle against the Competition Commission which ordered the Stansted Airport sell-off in March 2009, Ryanair and Manchester Group have expressed interest in bidding for the ailing airport.
It is rumoured that Manchester Airport Group is the preferred bidder for the purchase of the business. Ryanair, the low budget airliner group has also expressed interest in acquiring the business and has held discussions over taking a 25% stake in Stansted airport.
Ryanair might plan for an overhaul of the airport if it acquires the Essex airport as Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s boss, has quite openly expressed his dislike for the current settings of the terminal which embodies the “glass palaces.” Passengers would also be expected to walk on and off airplanes via steps, instead of the airport bridges that are common at Heathrow.
Stansted is London’s third airport handling some 17.5 million passengers a year. Stansted’s traffic numbers have been continuously falling since 2007 and last month’s figures from BAA showed their drop further by 4.6% so far this year.
The UK’s fourth-busiest airport had been losing traffic since low-cost airlines and tour operators cut capacity to reflect slowing demand. BAA has been set a deadline by the Competition Commission to complete the sale of Stansted, but said that date remained confidential because it is commercially sensitive.
BAA’s chief executive Colin Matthews who had fought to avoid the forced sale of the airport, was visibly upset with the decision. The sale, which could raise at least £1 billion, is expected to attract attention from rival airport operators and private equity groups.