Ryanair to buy Stansted stake after BAA loses case

Ryanair is planning on buying a stake in London’s Stansted Airport after competition authorities in the UK won a court case forcing the break-up of the BAA airport monopoly.

“BAA has decided not to appeal to the Supreme Court and is now proceeding with the sale of Stansted Airport,” the London-based, Spanish-owned group said yesterday.

The group added that it is still of the belief that the UK Competition Commission failed to recognise that Stansted and Heathrow serve different markets.

Ryanair is keen to take a 25% equity stake in Stansted by joining one of six or so groups it reckons might bid, said chief financial officer Howard Miller.

Ryanair head of communications Stephen McNamara said BAA has been cynically blocking the sale of Stansted while profiting from their monopoly.

“The BAA’s seven failed court appeals were nothing more than a blatant attempt to delay the sale while BAA and its Spanish owners, Ferrovial, fattened up its monopoly profits at the expense of airlines, passengers and British jobs,” said Mr McNamara. “It is now time for Ferrovial to get on with selling Stansted.

“The sale of Stansted into separate ownership will lead to more competition, lower passenger charges, improved passenger services, and the roll-out of additional and much needed traffic growth at competitive prices in Stansted,” he said.

South Korea’s Incheon International Airport Corp has been monitoring the Stansted situation with a view to making an offer should the asset become available, said Tae-Soo Yuh, its aviation marketing director.

Manchester Airport’s chief executive, Charlie Cornish, said the same day he is continuing to seek outside funds for the purchase of a “major asset”. He said in 2011 his company, owned by 10 local authorities around the English city, would look at Stansted should it become available.

Manchester runs East Midlands, Bournemouth, and Humberside airports.

Meanwhile, Ryanair has lost a bid to appeal a ruling from earlier this month that allowed a UK regulator to continue its probe into the no-frills airline’s 30% stake in Aer Lingus.

The Competition Appeal Tribunal, which ruled against Ryanair earlier this month, said the carrier could ask the Court of Appeal directly for permission to challenge the ruling.


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