Competition Commission prepares to investigate BAA after a critical report by the Office of Fair Trading

An investigation by the Competition Commission (CC) into BAA could lead to the break up of the airports group.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has asked the CC to investigate the airport services group following its own study.

John Fingleton, OFT chief executive, said the “current market structure does not deliver best value for air travellers in the UK.”

The findings in the OFT report into BAA include:

  • Evidence of poor customer satisfaction
  • Significant investment at airports in the South-east of England is planned. Without competition - investment could be inefficient - costly for air passengers and for the UK
  • BAA's Scottish airports which carry more than 80% of Scottish air passengers, are not price regulated, and charges to airlines are higher than Gatwick and Stansted
The OFT is now launching a consultation which will end on 8 February 2007 before making a final decision.

Any break-up would be a blow for BAA’s Spanish owners Ferrovial which bought the group for about £10bn earlier this year.

BAA owns Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Southampton in South-east England, and Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen in Scotland. These airports have an annual turnover of £2bn and handle more than 60% of all air passengers in the UK, the OFT said.