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BAA appeals against order to sell its airports

BAA today confirmed that it is applying to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) to review the Competition Commission’s order that it sell three of its UK airports.

It is to appeal on two grounds: that the report was affected by apparent bias and that the Competition Commission did not take into accout the current financial crisis.

In a statement the firm said:

“First we are appealing because of apparent bias. This is because of links between a member of the Competition Commission panel and an organisation interested in acquiring the airports that BAA is required to sell.

“BAA will also appeal on the grounds that the Competition Commission 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. The CAT will publish a notice on its website summarising the appeal in the next few days.

BAA said the Gatwick sale process continues, and that it would make a further announcement “at the appropriate time”.

Responding to BAA’s decision, shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers, said: “We have long been pushing for the break up of BAA and welcome the steps they are taking to proceed with the sale of Gatwick. Allowing passengers to vote with their feet and choose between airports run by different operators should help drive up service quality at all of London’s major airports.

“However, we recognise the difficulty associated with a quick sale of assets as important as airports, particularly in the current climate, and accept that the issues around the timing of the eventual break up we wish to see will have to be carefully assessed so that both BAA and its customers are treated fairly.”

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