BAA claims that the Competition Commission’s (CC) conclusions over the need for divestment of airports are “flawed” and “irrational”. On 22 September 2011 BAA launched an appeal before the Competition Appeal Tribunal. In particular, BAA alleges that the CC failed to take into account the competition benefits of new runway capacity and had not considered the damage to BAA and its shareholders flowing from the requirement to divest Stansted in a short specified period.
This is the latest move in a long-standing battle over the future of Britain’s airports. In 2009, the CC’s investigation concluded that a package of remedies was needed to address competition issues resulting from the supply of airport services by BAA. These remedies included BAA divesting Stansted and Gatwick airports, and either Edinburgh or Glasgow airports. Following a round of appeals by both parties in 2009/2010, the CC’s 2009 report was upheld. However, the CC agreed to consult on whether there had been a material change of circumstances or special reason that it should change the remedies recommended in the report.
In July 2011, the CC concluded that the original remedies are still required, and whilst BAA has already sold Gatwick, it still needs to address its common ownership of Heathrow, Stansted, Glasgow and Edinburgh airports. BAA is appealing this decision.