BAA keeps roof on with mortgages at Stansted

10.3.2010   (Telegraph)
By Alistair Osbourne
To let: Chocolate box four bed in Essex. Well situated for local airport. Particularly
suit hard of hearing.

Cash-strapped airports operator BAA has been forced to mortgage 39 houses near
Stansted airport, many of which it is planning to demolish to make way for a planned
second runway.

The latest return for Stansted Airport, filed last week at Companies House, shows
that BAA has taken out mortgages with Royal Bank of Scotland on properties including
Rose Cottage in Bambers Green and 2 Chestnut Way, Takeley.
The houses are offered as security against the £10.5bn borrowings of BAA (SP)
Ltd – the parent company for Stansted and Heathrow airports. Some houses have
been re-let via agents Strutt & Parker.

Local residents said the mortgages proved BAA could not afford the runway at
Stansted, where operating profits dived from £81m to £27m last year as passengers

Brian Ross, economics adviser to the Stop Stansted Expansion campaign group,
said: “It smacks of desperation when BAA even has to mortgage the very houses
it has bought in connection with its second runway plans.

How on earth can BAA continue to say, with a straight face, that it remains fully
committed to a £3bn second runway when it is already mortgaged right up to the
hilt. It’s a case of Walter Mitty pretending to be Paul Getty.”

Residents claim that as many as 11,000 houses could be blighted by the scheme,
the public inquiry for which has been repeatedly delayed.

A BAA spokesman denied the mortgages indicated any financial strain. “This is
just part of the securitisation on all our assets,” he said. “It’s simply the
way we are financed.”

Mr Ross said: “When you have got liabilities of £12bn and assets of £12.8bn,
it’s not surprising that the bank wants security over everything.”