Page last updated at 18:34 GMT, Monday, 18 May 2009 19:34 UK

BAA to challenge airport break-up

BAA flag outside Stansted airport
BAA currently owns seven airports in the UK

BAA says it will appeal against the decision by the Competition Commission ordering it to sell three airports.

The commission told BAA in March that it must sell Gatwick and Stansted airports and either Edinburgh or Glasgow airport.

BAA said the ruling did not take into account current economic conditions. It also said that the commission's report was "affected by apparent bias".

The commission looked into BAA's dominance over the UK's airports.

BAA, which is owned by Spanish firm Ferrovial, said that the Competition Commission ruling failed to take into account the tough economic conditions against which the sales would have to take place.

We would hope that the matter can be resolved without undue delay to changes we feel would benefit passengers and airlines
Competition Commission

BAA is already trying to sell Gatwick airport and said that the sales process was continuing.

Questions raised

BAA also said it is appealing on the grounds of apparent bias.

"This is because of links between a member of the Competition Commission panel and an organisation interested in acquiring the airport that BAA is required to sell," BAA said in a statement.

The BBC understands that BAA has raised questions about Professor Peter Moizer, one of six Competition Commission panelists involved in the inquiry into the company's airports.

Professor Moizer is an adviser to the Greater Manchester Pension Fund - which is part of a consortium bidding to buy Gatwick Airport.

Gatwick was put up for sale during the later months of the Commission's inquiry. Mr Moizer resigned from the Competition Commission panel two weeks before the report was published.

BAA sources said the company was not alleging actual bias against the Commission panel, rather that the Commission had not dealt with "apparent bias".

The appeal will be heard by the independent Competition Appeal Tribunal, chaired by Sir Gerald Barling QC.

The process will almost certainly delay the sale of BAA's three airports.

The Competition Commission said it would defend its case vigorously.

"We would hope that the matter can be resolved without undue delay to changes we feel would benefit passengers and airlines," a spokesman said.

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