Though BAA said it does not agree with the CC’s provisional fi ndings, a precursor to a fi nal decision expected early next year on whether BAA’s airport holdings should be broken up, it conceded that it needs to take measures to resolve “current uncertainty” over future ownership of London’s airports.
It is unclear whether selling LGW will satisfy the CC, which in last month’s report leaned toward recommending that BAA sell two of the three London airports as well as either Edinburgh or Glasgow.
The airport operator, a subsidiary of Grupo Ferrovial, indicated yesterday that it would like to retain both London Heathrow and Stansted, saying that “a change of ownership [at Stansted] would interfere with the process of securing planning approval for a second runway, which remains a key feature of [UK] air transport policy.”
BAA CEO Colin Matthews said, “Gatwick has long been an important and valuable part of BAA and the decision to sell was not taken lightly.” Analysts pegged LGW’s value at more than Â£2 billion (US$3.6 billion). Gatwick handled 35 million passengers last year, second most in the UK behind London Heathrow.
Potential buyers are already lining up. Virgin Atlantic Airways said yesterday that it would “relish the opportunity’’ to bid for the airport as part of a consortium. Manchester Airport Group and Fraport AG also have expressed interest.