Airport bosses will sell Gatwick

AIRPORT owner BAA today announced it will sell Gatwick - but intends to try to hang on to Stansted.

AIRPORT owner BAA today announced it will sell Gatwick - but intends to try to hang on to Stansted.

Jet planes from both airports fly over Suffolk and campaigners have been fighting proposals to change flightpaths and holding areas with air traffic set to double in the next 25 years.

But the sale of Gatwick is unlikely to make much difference to the amount of planes, unless Stansted is sold too, and its new owners abandon plans for a second runway.

BAA said it was beginning the process to sell Gatwick “immediately” and customers, staff and business would benefit.

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It follows a report from the Competition Commission last month which identified “significant competition problems” because of BAA's dominant position and proposed the company cease running two of its three London airports.

The company has no intention of selling Heathrow and will attempt to persuade the commission to let it keep Stansted.

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BAA chief executive Colin Matthews said: “We will continue to present our case, in respect of the South East airports and those in Scotland.

“At Stansted, we believe that a change of ownership would interfere with the process of securing planning approval for a second runway, which remains a key feature of Government air transport policy.”

Sir Richard Branson's airline, Virgin Atlantic, Germany's Hochtief, Global Infrastructure Partners, the GE-Credit Suisse Investment fund and Australia's Macquarie group are all said to have indicated their interest in Gatwick, which could cost up to £3 billion.

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) is continuing to press the commission to use its powers to force BAA to sell Stansted.

A spokesman said today: “SSE considers that there is a compelling case for a review of the Air Transport White Paper, not only because the market circumstances will be very substantially changed through the ending of common ownership of the three main London airports but also because there have been significant changes in the market for air travel since 2003.”

Is breaking up BAA's monopoly a good move? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

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