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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 August 2006, 17:22 GMT 18:22 UK
BA urges break-up of operator BAA
British Airways planes at Heathrow
BA wants separate ownership of Heathrow and Stansted
British Airways has called for the UK Competition Commission to recommend the break-up of airports operator BAA.

BAA runs seven UK airports, including Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, and has been accused by its critics of market domination within the industry.

The demand follows the announcement in June of an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) into airport ownership in the UK.

Budget Irish airline Ryanair has also appealed for BAA to be dismantled.

BAA recently agreed to a takeover by Spanish building group Ferrovial in a deal which valued the UK firm at 10.3bn ($19.5bn; 15.2bn euros).

'More responsive'

BA urged the Competition Commission to look at separate ownership of Heathrow and Stansted airports.

"Separate ownership of Heathrow and Stansted would make infrastructure developments at the airports more responsive to airlines' and their customers' needs," said BA chief executive Willie Walsh.

BA said the commission should "enhance competition in the UK airports market and provide and effective framework for future airport growth".

Even if BAA were to be dismantled, strong regulation would still be needed, BA added.

The call comes as BAA is set to expand, with the completion of a new terminal at Heathrow scheduled for 2008, as well as a new runway at Stansted by 2013.

BA, along with other airlines, criticised BAA for its handling of an alleged terrorist plot, which forced airlines to cancel hundreds of flights from Heathrow.

At the time, Mr Walsh said BAA's management had "no adequate plan" to deal with the emergency.

BA had previously said it would seek compensation from BAA for the cancellations.

Security scare costs have hit airlines hard

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