CC Welcomes Stansted Sale Confirmation

August 21, 2012 /

The Competition Commission (CC) has welcomed the decision by BAA to proceed with the sale of Stansted Airport.

Last month the Court of Appeal upheld the CC’s decision to require BAA to sell Stansted, following the latest in a series of legal challenges.

Laura Carstensen, Chairman of the BAA Remedies Implementation Group and a member of the original Inquiry Group, said: “We are very pleased that BAA has finally agreed to proceed with the sale of Stansted Airport. We believe that both passengers and airlines will benefit from the introduction of new ownership and increased competition.”

The sales process will now proceed with the CC being closely involved to ensure the suitability of the new owner.

BAA completed the sale of Edinburgh Airport to Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) in May this year, the second of three airport sales required by the CC following its 2009 report into BAA’s ownership of seven UK airports. GIP bought Gatwick Airport from BAA in December 2009.

Following a number of legal challenges and a CC reassessment of the original decision, the CC brought forward in October 2011 the requirement for BAA to sell either Edinburgh or Glasgow Airport whilst BAA continued to challenge the sale of Stansted Airport. Prior to the Court of Appeal, the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) had already upheld the CC’s decision in February 2012.

On 29 March 2007, the OFT referred to the CC the supply of airport services by BAA in the UK. The CC published its report entitled BAA airports market investigation on 19 March 2009. BAA appealed aspects of the CC’s decision to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT), and on 21 December 2009 the CAT found that BAA’s application for review of the report succeeded on one ground (namely, apparent bias), but failed on a second ground (namely, that the CC failed properly to apply the proportionality principles when fixing the timetable for divestiture of three BAA airports).

The CC appealed against the CAT’s decision on apparent bias. On 13 October 2010 the Court of Appeal upheld the CC’s appeal against the decision of the CAT, restoring in full the report together with its remedies. On 18 February 2011, the Supreme Court refused BAA permission to appeal further.

In July 2011, the CC concluded a consideration of whether there had been any material changes in circumstances since it published its final report on BAA in March 2009 . The CC concluded that the sale of the airports was fully justified and that passengers and airlines would benefit from greater competition with the airports under separate ownership, despite the current Government’s decision to rule out new runways at any of the London airports.

BAA appealed to the CAT on the CC’s July 2011 decision and this was dismissed by the CAT on 1 February 2012. BAA then appealed to the Court of Appeal and this was dismissed on 26 July. When the Court of Appeal’s judgement was handed down, BAA indicated that it would consider seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. BAA has now reconsidered its position.

 

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