22-Dec-2009 11:08 AM

UK Competition Appeal Tribunal judgement finds for BAA

UK Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) issued (21-Dec-2009) its judgment on BAA's appeal over the Competition Commission's 'BAA airport markets investigation', which called for BAA to divest both Gatwick and Stansted airports and also one of either Edinburgh or Glasgow airport, noting:

  • "Apparent bias": The Tribunal unanimously concluded that in the light of the material facts a fair-minded and informed observer would conclude that there was a real possibility of bias affecting the deliberations, thinking and ultimate outcome of the Investigation;"
  • Proportionality": The Tribunal unanimously concluded that the challenge on that ground failed. BAA had not demonstrated that the Commission had failed to take account of relevant considerations when deciding upon the timescale for the divestments in question". [more - Competition Appeal Tribunal judgement]

BAA stated it is "pleased" with the decision and noted "further discussions should now take place with the Competition Commission, as the CAT suggests, to determine the appropriate response to this judgement". Ferrovial CFO, Ernesto Lopez Mozo stated, "BAA has an outstanding asset in Heathrow, and for the non-regulated airports, there is no obligation to hold or sell" (Bloomberg, 21-Dec-2009).

Competition Commission (CC) stated it is "disappointed" with the Tribunal’s decision, adding "we take the matter of impartiality extremely seriously". The CC stated it was "now studying the judgment and its implications carefully to see if there are any grounds for an appeal". [more - Competition Commission]

Ryanair stated (21 Dec 2009) it is "deeply disappointed" by the decision, adding it is "worried that this finding will allow the BAA monopoly to further delay the sale of Stansted Airport". Ryanair added it welcomed the Tribunal’s findings on the substantive elements of the BAA’s appeal, "in which they dismissed the BAA’s claims that the Competition Commission did not take the timing of divestiture into account". Ryanair added it "welcomed the fact that the Tribunal did not conclude that the Competition Commission’s decision to break up the BAA monopoly was wrong". [more - Ryanair]

Ryanair: “The substantive finding in today’s decision was the Tribunal’s decision to dismiss the BAA’s claims that the Competition Commission did not take the timing of the BAA break up into account. There is therefore no reason why the break up of the BAA and the early sale of Stansted and one of the Scottish airports cannot proceed", Michael O’Leary, CEO. Source: Ryanair, 21-Dec-2009.

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