BAA wins Stansted Airport appeal

PUBLISHED: 11:09 24 December 2009 | UPDATED: 22:06 31 May 2010

SOMETIMES it is not what you know, but who you know. Sometimes it is both. That could not be more prevalent than in the latest round of a bout in an Essex boxing ring that is most commonly known as Stansted Airport. Owners BAA claimed another victory on M

SOMETIMES it is not what you know, but who you know. Sometimes it is both. That could not be more prevalent than in the latest round of a bout in an Essex boxing ring that is most commonly known as Stansted Airport.

Owners BAA claimed another victory on Monday after winning an appeal against the competition commission which had ordered the company to sell Stansted, along with Gatwick and one Scottish airport.

The knockout blow for the UK's largest airport operator was an argument concerning "bias" in the original inquiry team that announced the forced sale back in March.

A competition appeal tribunal heard evidence throughout October and unanimously decided that one of the original inquiry team, Professor Peter Mozier, could have been tainted with bias after it emerged he had a connection to the Manchester Airport Group that had been interested in buying Gatwick.

This effectively means that BAA no longer has to put the airport up for sale, for the time being.

A spokesman for BAA said: "We are pleased that the Competition Appeal Tribunal upheld our appeal on the grounds of apparent bias.

"Further discussions should now take place with the Competition Commission to determine the appropriate response to this judgement, as the CAT suggests."

However, the three-man tribunal did rule against BAA's second ground of appeal, namely, that the timetable laid down by the Competition Commission for the sale of the three airports was too short.

In terms of the way forward the tribunal has said it is for the Competition Commission and BAA to decide. But that if no agreement can be reached it will hear further arguments from both sides before making a final decision.

One possibility though is that the whole Competition Commission inquiry into BAA's monopoly would have to be re-run, a process which could take two years.

This has angered anti-airport expansion groups such as the Stop Stansted Expansion group who fear that the threat of expansion will continue.

Campaign director Carol Barbone said: "The ruling has the potential to blight the local community for many more years despite the fact that the case for a second Stansted runway is dead in the water.

"BAA should face up to this now and end the uncertainty by announcing the cancellation of its second runway plans.


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