Court of Appeal tells BAA to sell Stansted and a Scottish airport
over its dominance of the UK’s airports today, meaning that it will now be forced
to sell Stansted, and either Edinburgh or Glasgow airports.
in the Court of Appeal brought by the Competition Commission.
which found in favour of BAA: that an investigation by the commission was biased
because a committee member – Professor Peter Moizer – was an adviser to Manchester
Airport’s pension fund, which had expressed an interest in investing in an airport.
said it would appeal to the Supreme Court. The company argues that the Court of
Appeal accepted that “apparent bias” existed during part of the commission’s investigation.
argued by the Competition Commission,” a BAA spokesman said. “We note the court’s
view that apparent bias in relation to a panel member existed during part of the
commission’s investigation and will study this judgment carefully. We will be
seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.”
but yesterday’s hearing upheld an argument by the Competition Commission that
this was true only between December 2008 and March 2009, after the pension fund
had informed Professor Moizer of its intentions.
Airport pension fund was too remote to have influenced the original recommendation
that BAA be forced to sell off a number of assets.
a Competition Commission spokesman said.
remedies including the requirement for BAA to sell Stansted and either Edinburgh
or Glasgow airports, Gatwick having already been sold. Our intention now is to
work with BAA to implement these measures in the interests of the travelling public.”
and that it took “very seriously the need for our inquiry panels to be completely
seeking leave to appeal.
element of its appeal. BAA believes that having established that there was “apparent
bias” after December 2008, it has a strong case.
date, including the timetable and the criteria for purchasers. It is not just
BAA will do everything it can to challenge this decision – Stansted has been a
cash cow for the company and gives it a strong footprint in the South-east of
in London’s City airport is hoping to raise as much as £200m from selling the
(GIP), the majority owner, did not return calls. GIP also bought Gatwick from
BAA last December.
SSE says BAA should accept Appeal Court victory and sell Stansted
Justice Maurice Kay in the Court of Appeal and sell Stansted Airport without further
Welcoming today’s decision by the Court of Appeal, SSE Economics Adviser Brian
Ross commented: "We urge BAA to accept the Court of Appeal’s decision and relinquish
control of Stansted without any more delaying tactics, such as an appeal to the
Supreme Court. It may be in BAA’s commercial interests to try to delay the inevitable
for as long as possible but creating further uncertainty would not be in the interests
of either the local community or the airport’s employees."
This is the latest step in a long running saga which began in 2006 when the Office
of Fair Trading launched a market study into BAA’s dominant position in the UK
airports market. There followed a two year study by the Competition Commission
(CC) which concluded (in March 2009) that BAA should sell Gatwick and Stansted
and either Edinburgh or Glasgow. BAA has since sold Gatwick but for the past
18 months it has been embroiled in protracted legal proceedings where it has been
challenging the CC ruling in respect of Stansted and Edinburgh/Glasgow.
Mr Ross concluded: "A change of ownership at Stansted Airport would at least
create the prospect of establishing a meaningful and constructive dialogue between
the airport management and the local community – something which BAA were never
prepared to engage in. There is, of course, always the risk that the new owner
could be worse that the devil we already know but in this particular case we believe
that risk is extremely small."
The Court of Appeal refused BAA’s application to appeal to the Supreme Court
although BAA can seek to have this refusal overturned.
NOTE TO EDITORS
â€¢The Court of Appeal judgment was handed down on 13 October 2010 by Lord Justice
Maurice Kay, supported by Lord Justice Jacob and Lord Justice Patten. It is expected
to be available online later today on the Court of Appeal website:
Court. If so, it could be another year before we had the Supreme Court’s ruling.