BAA pays its own staff to lobby in favour of Stansted expansion

(The Times19.9.2007)

BAA paid its security staff to protest at a public inquiry hearing evidence about
the environmental damage that would be caused by the expansion of Stansted.   The staff were given paid time off from carrying out security checks at the
Essex airport to support their employer’s application to increase the number of
flights by 75,000 a year.  

More than 40 BAA staff and airport contractors attended the inquiry yesterday
at a building close to the passenger terminal.   The Times has learnt that BAA encouraged staff to join the protest by suggesting
that their jobs would be at risk unless the expansion was approved.   Ryanair and other airlines that use the airport have repeatedly accused BAA
of failing to provide enough security staff to cope with the extra checks introduced
last year. Scanning machines are frequently left unmanned and passengers have
to queue for up to an hour to pass through security.

BAA, which is owned by the Spanish company Ferrovial, wants to increase passenger
numbers at Stansted from 23 million last year to 35 million by 2014.   BAA admitted that staff had been given time off to attend the inquiry.   But it claimed that there had been no impact on passengers because the protest
began after the morning peak.

The company also admitted that its claim that jobs could be lost was based on
the theory that airlines would move to other airports if expansion was rejected.
It failed to point out to its staff that all other London airports were either
full or close to capacity.

Brian Ross, of Stop Stansted Expansion, said BAA had misled staff to suit its
commercial agenda. "It is bizarre when passengers are standing in security queues
to send security staff to protest about the local MP speaking at a public inquiry.