Probe Call on Stansted 'Rule-Breaking' by BAA
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 revenues from passengers at Heathrow and Gatwick.
BAA chief executive Mike Clasper this week revealed that the construction of a second runway 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 have to pay for the airport through an effective 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.
TBI chief executive Keith Brooks said: "The proposals are outrageous.
They contravene the existing Civil Aviation Authority regulations on cross-subsidy of London airports and, if allowed to go ahead, would represent the further exploitation of BAA's acknowledged monopoly position."
Brooks, who is attempting to position Luton as a viable alternative to Stansted, is seeking urgent meetings with Darling and the CAA over what he sees as BAA's use of its financial clout to expand an empire granted to it at privatisation.
"The BAA proposal will increase the cost of flying by introducing restrictive practices which are against the spirit of a liberalised and commercial market place," he said. …