BAA quizzed over airport monopoly

PUBLISHED: 17:08 04 April 2007 | UPDATED: 10:17 31 May 2010

Stansted Airport – Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

Stansted Airport - Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

BAA s ownership of Stansted, Heathrow and Gatwick Airports has been referred to the Competition Commission by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). The recommendation from the OFT comes after a period of public consultation which took in over 60 responses fro

BAA's ownership of Stansted, Heathrow and Gatwick Airports has been referred to the Competition Commission by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

The recommendation from the OFT comes after a period of public consultation which took in over 60 responses from airlines, consumers and other organisations.

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has welcomed the news and hopes the days of the airport operator's South East monopoly are over.

The pressure group's Economics Adviser, Brian Ross, said: "We have been pressing for a break up of BAA's monopoly for nearly four years.

"Monopolists are not only characterised by their insensitivity towards customers and suppliers, but also towards the communities in which they do business.

"BAA's dealings with the local community affected by its operations at Stansted can be summed up as a failure to listen and a failure to care."

Mr Ross added he hoped

SSE and the airport operator could work together better following the investigation.

"This referral is long overdue and we are confident it marks the beginning of the end for BAA's monopoly," he said.

"We look forward to providing evidence to the Competition Commission aimed at achieving that outcome.

"Hopefully we can then make a fresh start in trying to establish a better working relationship with our airport neighbour."

The market study produced by the OFT found "evidence of poor customer satisfaction" and suggested separate ownership of the airports would create more competition and "improve the efficiency" of investment.

BAA responded to the announcement by welcoming the investigation but arguing the

OFT study was too narrow, and the company's ownership was not the key issue in improving service for customers.

Chief Executive Stephen Nelson said: "Our analysis is that the fundamental problem for passengers is lack of capacity, not the structure of BAA.

"At Stansted, for example, planning for a new runway and terminal is progressing well, and we expect to submit a formal planning application later this year - our plans amount to nothing less than the transformation of Britain's biggest airports.

"Putting BAA in the dock for a complex set of problems, with deep legacy causes, will not help solve them.

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