Airports operator says it will challenge Competition Commission ruling

BAA is set to appeal against the decision by competition authorities forcing it to sell off three airports.

The Competition Commission ordered the UK airports operator in March to sell off Gatwick, Stansted and one of either Edinburgh or Glasgow airports.

But BAA now says the ruling did not give enough consideration to the economic downturn, and alleges a conflict of interest between the commission and one of the parties bidding to buy Gatwick.

In a statement, the airports operator referred to “links between a member of the Competition Commission panel and an organisation interested in acquiring the airports that BAA is required to sell”.

Bids for Gatwick of around £1.3bn are considered well below its true asset value

The decision to appeal against the Competition Commission's ruling is expected to delay the sale of BAA's airports by several months.

Bidding on Gatwick is down to the final stages, with two parties - a consortium led by the owners of Manchester airport, and another led by the owners of London City airport - bidding in the region of £1.3bn for the airport. This is considered to be well beneath the asset value of the London air hub.