Call for BAA Monopoly Probe in Stansted Row

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Byline: ROBERT LEA

TRANSPORT Secretary Alistair Darling has been urged to launch an immediate investigation into BAA's London airports monopoly in the escalating row over the group's plan to subsidise a [pounds sterling]4 billion expansion at Stansted airport with revenue from passengers at Heathrow and Gatwick.

It has also emerged that the Civil Aviation Authority, which sets airline landing fees in London, will invite BAA to submit plans to move the regulatory goalposts and scrap the ban on it cross-subsidising its airports.

BAA chief executive Mike Clasper this week revealed that the construction of a second runway at Stansted, and additional airport infrastructure to support it, would be delayed for "several years" from its planned 2012 deadline unless it is able to bring in funding from elsewhere in the group and double landing charges at the Essex airport.

Airlines that use Stansted, such as Ryanair and easyJet, are up in arms at the prospect of raised charges, and nonusers, such as Virgin Atlantic, are angered that they will effectively pay for the airport through what amounts to a levy at Heathrow and Gatwick.

TBI, owner of London's fourth airport, Luton, has now waded in to the row, accusing BAA of a flagrant abuse of its monopoly position. …