Sell-off appeal creates fresh doubt

THE public inquiry into plans for a second runway at Stansted could be delayed again, following confirmation that owner BAA is to appeal against a Competition Commission ruling that it must sell the Essex airport.

THE public inquiry into plans for a second runway at Stansted could be delayed again, following confirmation that owner BAA is to appeal against a Competition Commission ruling that it must sell the Essex airport.

The inquiry was due to get underway last month but in March it was announced that the start date had been put back until the summer, pending the outcome of the CC inquiry.

Earlier this month it emerged that the hearing was unlikely to begin before September and, with BAA's appeal against the CC ruling likely to take several months, the date could slide further.

The CC ruled that BAA, owned by Spanish group Ferrovial, must sell off both Gatwick and Stansted airports, and either Edinburgh or Glasgow.


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BAA had indicated ahead of the ruling that it planned to sell Gatwick, and talks are continuing, but the group has now decided to fight the CC's finding that its ownership of seven UK airports - also including Heathrow, Southampton and Aberdeen - is anti-competitive.

The group said it was applying to the Competition Appeal Tribunal to review the report of the CC on two separate grounds.

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“The first ground is that the report is affected by apparent bias,” said BAA in a statement. “This is because of links between a member of the CC panel and an organisation interested in acquiring the airports that BAA is required to sell.

“BAA will also appeal on the grounds that the CC failed to take into account the adverse financial impact of introducing competition, in particular by requiring BAA to sell three airports within two years in the current financial and economic circumstances.”

Even if the inquiry into the second runway plan goes ahead in September, a result is unlikely to be announced before the next General Election which must held by June next year.

The Conservatives have pledged to overturn the current Government's support for new runways at both Stansted and Heathrow.

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