Already under heavy fire from airline operators for the recent happenings at London Heathrow's disastrous opening of its Terminal 5, UK airport operator BAA received another jolt with an interim report of the UK Competition Commission saying that it's common ownership of seven UK airports comprising London's Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted along with Southampton, Edinburgh, Glasgow International and Aberdeen may not be serving the interests of either airlines or passengers.
"Overall, our current view is that there is potential for competition at all BAA's airports," inquiry chairman, Christopher Clarke, noted. The report is an interim submission of the Commission's investigation into the market for the supply of airport services by BAA in the UK.
The authority said it identified several features potentially limiting competition. "We are particularly concerned by [BAA's] apparent lack of responsiveness to the differing needs of its airline customers, and hence passengers, and the consequences for the levels, quality, scope, location and timing of investment and levels and quality of service," Clarke said.
The interim report, which warned that "no conclusions have been reached at this stage," expects to publish provisional findings in August. The report also said that if competition problems are identified, then it would outline possible remedies at the same time. These could include recommendations "requiring the sale of one or more of BAA's airports or otherwise."
Airlines welcomed the report. EasyJet CEO Andy Harrison called it "a major step in the right direction" and added, "Breaking up BAA alone is not enough or even the first step. We need a fundamental overhaul of UK airport regulation which will introduce more competition and tougher regulation."
For bmi CEO Nigel Turner, "the only option facing the regulators is the dismantling of BAA's monopolistic grip over the UK's busiest airports in [London] and in Scotland."