Stansted airport is to be sold off after its owner BAA gave up on its long legal battle today.
The Spanish company, which recently lost a Court of Appeal ruling over the Essex airport, said it would not make a further appeal and accepts it has to sell it. The Competition Commission (CC) ruled that BAA must dispose of Gatwick, Stansted and one of its Scottish airports following an inquiry into the company’s airport ownership.
Gatwick was sold to Global Infrastructure Partnerships (GIP) in December 2009 and GIP also took over Edinburgh Airport last year.But then BAA mounted a series of legal challenges to the CC ruling, with the latest one – against the sale of Stansted – ending in defeat at the High Court in July this year.
After that latest loss, BAA said it would appeal to the Supreme Court but today the Spanish-owned company signalled an end to its fight to hang on to Stansted.
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Edinburgh Airport is to be sold by operator BAA after it was told by competition regulators to sell either Glasgow or Edinburgh Airport . Edinburgh is now the busiest airport in Scotland. BAA has tried delaying tactics for 2 years.
BAA is now beginning preparations for a sale and it will probably approach the market in the New Year in order to agree a sale by Summer 2012. BAA chief executive, Colin Matthews, said they would be “very sorry to see it leave BAA”. The airport had annoyed customers by starting to charge for dropping off and picking up. MSPs have also become aware of the issue with the possibility of a legal challenge to the charges.
BAA will hold on to Aberdeen Airport and Glasgow Airport.
It has also been told to sell London Stansted Airport.
Mr Matthews said: “Edinburgh is a great airport with a great team and a great future and we will be very sorry to see it leave BAA. We remain committed to Scotland and we will continue our long-term investment to improve passenger and airline experience at Aberdeen and Glasgow, as well as at Edinburgh until the sale is complete.Choosing which airport to sell has been a difficult decision.
“Edinburgh Airport has shown itself to be a strong and resilient asset throughout the economic downturn.
“Passenger numbers at Edinburgh have grown by more than 6% over the past year and in an uncertain market we expect it to be an attractive asset to prospective buyers.
“Glasgow Airport has great opportunities for future growth and development and we think BAA is well-placed to build on its recent success. Both airports are of national importance and have a bright future.”