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Competition Commission loose airport sale appeal bid


The forced sale of Stansted and Glasgow or Edinburgh airports is likely to be further delayed with the original ruling to break up owner BAA likely to be thrown out or massively extended after the Competition Commission lost its attempt to have the disputed ruling referred to the Court of Appeal.

The Commission ruled last March that one of the two biggest Scottish airports should be sold along with Stansted and Gatwick. BAA sold Gatwick in December even though the ruling was overturned by the Competition Appeal Tribunal later that month on the basis of ‘apparent bias' - because a member of the commission’s panel had connections with Manchester Airport.

Yesterday the Commission lost its attempt to have the case referred to the Court of Appeal. The watchdog now intends to apply directly to the court, but press reports suggest that, even if successful, the initial two-year timescale placed on the sales could be doubled by the delays and perhaps even a second inquiry.

BAA is still likely to want to sell airports in order to pay down its massive debt pile, but wants to do so on its own timescale, once markets have recovered and it can get a better price for them, especially after losing £277m on the sale of Gatwick. It seems likely to be able to do this.

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