BAA responsible for poor service

BAA responsible for poor service
BAA responsible for poor service

The responsibility for the poor service received by both passengers and airlines at Britain's airports can be laid at the door of BAA, with lack of competition in the sector being the main reason.

The Competition Commission (CC) is recommending BAA sell two of its London airports, which include Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, and either Edinburgh or Glasgow.

"The Competition Commission should not duck the challenge," said shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers.

"BAA should be broken up so that it no longer has such a dominant hold over airport capacity in London and the South East. They have let down their passengers by providing poor service and Heathrow hassle is now notorious."

A consultation will now be launched to decide which airports will be sold, although the CC admitted it was unlikely to be Heathrow.

"Breaking up the BAA monopoly is a long overdue move to make aviation fairer to passengers," said Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Norman Baker.

"The next step is to end the hidden public subsidy to the aviation industry to make air travel fair to the environment as well."

The Commission's report said a "lack of responsiveness to the needs of its airline customers and a lack of initiative in planning capacity" has led to under-investment at BAA-operated airports.

Christopher Clarke, chairman of the BAA airports inquiry group, said: "While we accept that constraints on runway capacity in the south-east will limit the scope for the benefits of competition in the short-term, we believe that separate owners would be more active than BAA in exploiting existing opportunities."

There are also problems arising from the planning system, aspects of government policy and the system of regulation, the CC added.

However, BAA has argued the levels of poor service and disruption are a result of a lack of capacity at the sites and wants to expand.

"Just as the government is about to make the decisions that could lead to the first full-length runways being built in the south-east since the second world war, the Commission risks creating uncertainty, delay and confusion at exactly the wrong time.

"In Scotland, the Commission has apparently ignored the evidence presented by BAA, and supported by numerous respected third party organisations, that clearly demonstrates that serve separate markets and therefore do not and would not compete, regardless of ownership."

BAA chairman Sir Nigel Rudd told the BBC on Saturday that selling Gatwick would not be a disaster for the group.

The company has already received "huge expressions of interest" for both Stansted and Gatwick, Sir Nigel said.

German companies Hochtief and Fraport are reported to be interested in buying Gatwick.


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