BAA Let Off The Hook

By | Category: Travel rumblings

In a view that surprised nearly everyone, probably including BAA themselves, there has been a ruling that BAA may not have to sell of one of their Scottish airports (Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow) nor dispose of Stansted.  BAA appealed against the decision of the Competition Commission and the Competition Appeal Tribunal has agreed with BAA.

Why?

Because of a technicality.  One of the Competition Commission’s panellists (Professor Peter Moizer)  was also an advisor to Manchester Airport Group which was interested in buying Gatwick. The ruling said that although there was no element of bias, there could be a belief that there might be one.   And they are right. Why on earth didn’t the Competition Commission ask Prof. Moizer to stand down before the enquiry began if they didn’t know of his involvement? If they didn’t why did the Professor not make everyone concerned about a conflict of interest?  The Professor, after all, is Dean of Business Studies at Leeds University and should have a better grasp than most of the implications of him judging this. He did eventually stand down but the damage was done.

The taxpayer has had to fund this waste of time. And it isn’t even over now. Three of the members of the commission investigating BAA have had their contracts extended to 9 March 2011 so even more is due to be spent. So now BAA has to make yet more submissions and the worst case could be that the whole investigation will have to be restarted.

And yet there is still the problem that BAA controls the 3 most significant airports in Scotland. That is to nobody’s benefit and maybe not even to BAA (a sale of one would help reduce some of the heavy debt) But the poor old traveller still has to put up with it after the incompetence of the Competition Commission.

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