BAA agrees to sell off Stansted airport – no further appeals

BAA has finally agreed it will not mount a final appeal to the Supreme Court to avoid having to sell Stansted. The Court of Appeal last month upheld a competition ruling dating back to 2009, dictating that Stansted must be sold.  BAA has been told it does not have the legal grounds for a further appeal.  BAA still asserts that the Competition Commission is wrong, as Heathrow and Stansted serve different markets.  BAA has been trying every delaying tactic to delay the sale for as long as possible, due to the current depressed market. The airport is valued at around £1 billion. Stansted, which deals mainly with leisure travellers, has been hit hard by the double dip recession and has been losing passengers consistently since 2007. There is no timetable yet for the sale. MAG and South Korea’s state-owned Incheon airport group are possible buyers.


BAA has finally surrendered to the Competition Commission over Stansted, ending a three-year legal battle to keep hold of the Essex airport.

Stansted Airport pick-up terminal

Manchester Airports Group, South Korea’s Incheon airport and Ryanair have all been linked to a possible bid for Stansted. Photo: Alamy

20 Aug 2012  (Telegraph)

The airports operator said on Monday it would not mount a final appeal to the Supreme Court, after the Court of Appeal last month upheld a competition ruling dating back to 2009, dictating that Stansted must be sold.

A spokesman for BAA said the operator still fundamentally disagreed with the Commission’s position on Stansted, given that it serves a different market from its other London airport, Heathrow. However, BAA had been advised that it would not have the legal grounds for a further appeal, the spokesman said.

The group said in a statement: “Having carefully considered the Court of Appeal’s recent ruling, BAA has decided not to appeal to the Supreme Court and is now proceeding with the sale of Stansted airport. We still believe that the Competition Commission ruling fails to recognise that Stansted and Heathrow serve different markets.”

BAA chief executive, Colin Matthews, had been hoping to delay the sale for as long as possible so that he would not be forced to offload Stansted in the current depressed market.

The airport, which is heavily reliant upon leisure travellers, has been hit hard by the double dip recession and has been shedding passengers since 2007.

Manchester Airports Group and South Korea’s state-owned Incheon airport group have been touted as possible buyers for Stansted, which has been valued at about £1bn.

Low cost airline Ryanair has also held talks with several parties about putting together a consortium to bid for the airport.

Last month Ryanair’s chief financial officer, Howard Millar, said the carrier was interest in taking a 25pc stake in Stansted.

BAA said it is not working to a particular timetable for the sale but the operator sold Edinburgh airport six months after being told it had to dispose of the asset by competition authorities.

Last week it emerged that a Qatari government investment fund had bought a 20pc stake in BAA for £900m.

Spain’s Ferrovial remains the largest shareholder in BAA with 39.4pc.



Competition Commission could foil Ryanair plan for Stansted stake

Date added: September 11, 2012

The Competition Commission will stamp down on Ryanair’s bid to take a 24.9 % stake in any consortium that buys Stansted airport. Any more than this would definitely cause problems with regulators especially after the airline’s attempts to take over Aer Lingus. Ryanair believes that by investing in the group that eventually purchases Stansted, its interests will be better served as Ryanair is Stansted’s main tenant – operating 41 planes there. The Competition Commission has suggested in the past that resident airlines could own no more than a tiny slice – perhaps 5 or 10% of the airport, so that it cannot make decisions on how the airport is run which would hurt competitor airlines. Michael O’Leary has been saying Stansted has permission for a 2nd runway. It does not. The application was withdrawn.  11.9.2012



Earlier news about the sale of Stansted:


Ryanair Seeking 25% Stake in London Stansted Airport Bid Group

July 30, 2012    Ryanair is keen to take a 25 % equity stake in Stansted by participating in one of a number of groups that may bid for the airport. Ryanair, Stansted’s biggest customer, is prepared to make “a modest commitment” as “anchor tenant” at the airport and has been examining proposals from five or six groups, from which one or two serious bids are likely to emerge. Ryanair’s Chief Financial Officer said “Stansted is the only place in London where another runway can be built. It makes more sense to have it at Heathrow, but Stansted is the only place with capacity and we want a 25% stake.” Stansted has to be sold soon, as BAA lost it latest stage in its appeal to avoid the sale last week, though it is possible it will go to the Supreme Court. South Korea’s Incheon International Airport Corp. may also bid for Stansted, as well as Manchester Airports Group.    Click here to view full story…


BAA loses Stansted legal challenge

July 26, 2012     BAA lost its latest challenge today against a decision forcing it to sell Stansted. The appeal by the Spanish-owned company was rejected by three Court of Appeal judges in London. In 2009 the Competition Commission ruled that BAA must sell Stansted and two of its other UK airports, and BAA has since mounted a series of unsuccessful legal challenges against the decision. Earlier this year BAA lost an appeal before the Competition Appeal Tribunal.    Click here to view full story…

BAA says Stansted airport will rebound when UK economy recovers

July 26, 2012    BAA says it believes struggling Stansted will rebound strongly when the UK economy recovers. Stansted passenger numbers have continued to decline this year and Colin Matthews said Stansted would struggle “as long as the UK consumer is not confident”. But  “It’s the only London airport with significant capacity to grow so when the UK consumer is confident again, we’ll see growth quicker there than anywhere else.” Stansted passengers have been down each month this year by between -2.5% and – 6.6% compared to the same month last year. Passenger numbers were down 24% in 2011, compared to the peak in 2007.  Click here to view full story…


BAA given last chance to appeal Stansted sale

May 28, 2012     At the Royal Courts of Justice in London, BAA was told it could make its case for the final time before the Court of Appeal. No date has been set for a hearing. This means the 3-year long battle by BAA to avoid having to sell Stansted drags on, yet again. The legal battle started back in March 2009 with a Competition Commission ruling that ordered the break-up of BAA. It has already had to sell Gatwick and Edinburgh airports, and BAA argues that the aviation market has changed substantially since the original ruling. It also stresses that Stansted does not compete with its only other remaining London airport, Heathrow. The airport’s MD says the ownership battle had hampered the airport’s ability to grow and attract more airlines, and it has lost about a quarter of its passengers since 2007.    Click here to view full story…



February 29, 2012    BAA has announced that it has initiated appeal proceedings against the Competition Appeal Tribunal’s judgment of 1 February 2012, upholding the Competition Commission’s ruling that BAA must sell Stansted Airport. This means that the uncertainty over the future ownership of Stansted Airport is set to continue for at least another six months. Once again, BAA has waited until the very last day before lodging its appeal – just a few hours before the deadline.    Click here to view full story…

Stansted sale: BAA loses appeal against ruling

February 1, 2012   BAA has lost its appeal against a ruling by the Competition that it must sell Stansted airport. The CC first ruled 3 years ago that BAA’s dominance in London and Scotland meant it must sell Gatwick, Stansted and either Glasgow or Edinburgh airports. BAA continued to fight the Stansted decision. Its appeal has now been dismissed by the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal, a judicial body whose panel is made up of judges and industry experts. BAA had argued that Stansted served a different market from Heathrow, and are used by different airlines, so they argued it was not anti-competitive for it to operate both airports. BAA does not want to have to sell Stansted in such an unfavourable economic climate.   Click here to view full story…