Page last updated at 08:11 GMT, Tuesday, 2 September 2008 09:11 UK

Virgin looking at buying Gatwick

Sir Richard Branson
Sir Richard Branson has long called for an airport shakeup

Virgin Atlantic has confirmed it is interested in being part of a consortium to buy Gatwick Airport.

Its comments come two weeks after the Competition Commission said in an interim ruling that BAA may have to sell three of its UK airports.

Although the Commission does not release its full report until next year, it added that BAA may need to sell two of its three London airports.

BAA has ruled out selling Heathrow, which leaves Gatwick and Stansted.

'Investment talks'

Virgin Atlantic owner, Sir Richard Branson, told the Daily Telegraph that "we are open to being courted by anyone who is interested in bidding" for Gatwick.

We would be interested in possibly buying Gatwick, but only as part of a consortium
Virgin spokesman

The Competition Commission is expected to make its final judgement in February next year.

According to press reports, Virgin Atlantic has already spoken to a number of potential co-bidders, including investment groups in the Middle East.

If BAA is forced to sell Gatwick, the likely asking price would be more than 2bn, analysts have said.

Gatwick handles about 34 million customers a year, half Heathrow's 68 million, but more than Stansted's 24 million.

"We would be interested in possibly buying Gatwick, but only as part of a consortium," said Virgin Atlantic communications director Paul Charles.

BAA is owned by Spanish group Ferrovial.

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