Competition Commission forces BAA to sell Edinburgh airport

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By a Newsnet reporter

Spanish owned BAA is to sell Edinburgh airport.  The company has opted to offload the airport after the Commission Commission ruled it had to sell one of its Scottish hubs.

Edinburgh airport is Scotland’s largest, around 40 airlines connect Edinburgh to more than 120 destinations and more than 100,000 flights and more than nine million passengers go through it per year .

The commission ruled that BAA’s ownership of six UK airports was anti-competitive.  The company was also ordered to sell to sell Gatwick and Stansted, Gatwick has already been sold off to an American group but BAA is challenging the Stansted order.

BAA chief executive Colin Matthews said: “We are now commencing preparations for a sale (of Edinburgh) and expect to formally approach the market in the new year with a view to agreeing a sale by summer 2012.”

“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.”

Over the past 12 months, passenger numbers at Edinburgh increased by 6.1% and 10,200 tonnes of cargo passed through this developing cargo hub.  Edinburgh employs 485 staff and also supports 7,500 jobs across Scotland.  BAA recently spent £42 million in 2010 improving the departure lounge and security hall.

The SNP said the announcement by BAA offers an opportunity for Edinburgh and Glasgow airports to grow and provide investment.

Edinburgh Western MSP Colin Keir said:

“BAA should be thanked for their commitment to Edinburgh Airport and the vital service it has provided to the city and East Central Scotland.  Edinburgh is Scotland’s busiest airport with passenger numbers expected to rise to 13 million per year by 2013.”

“This is a unique opportunity to buy Scotland’s premier airport and the new owners, whoever they may be, should show a commitment to more direct routes and new investment for the airport and the city, this is vital not only to Edinburgh West’s economy but the national economy as a whole.”

“Commitments must also be put in place to protect staff at the airport and guard against any uncertainty.”

Derek MacKay MSP, whose constituency includes Glasgow Airport, said:

“I welcome this decision, as this decision gives Glasgow Airport the certainty it requires to move on.  The airport is a driver in the West of Scotland economy, and so the vision and investment plan for the airport must now be delivered.”

“The airport has been enjoying increased passenger numbers, new routes and on-going development, so this decision now allows for the long term plans to be realised.”

BAA intends to complete the Edinburgh sale by next summer.