Britain’s competition regulator, having last month won the U.K. Court of Appeal’s judgment that it fairly decided that BAA should divest some of its airports, is now inviting submissions on whether recent developments may affect its original decision in March 2009. Those developments to be taken into consideration include the decision by the Coalition Government to cancel the building of a third runway at Heathrow, and to oppose new runways at Gatwick and Stansted airports. It also cites the changes in the economic and financial market conditions since the original Competition Commission report was published.
It has been widely argued that BAA should divest some of its airports and concentrate on doing a better job of running a smaller portfolio. With the disastrous state of London’s gateway airport, BAA-owned Heathrow, this argument can hardly be refuted.
The Competition Commission has argued that BAA should sell up Stansted, the other of its remaining London airports, after Gatwick was sold last year to Global Infrastructure Partners, part owner of London’s smallest airport, London City.
Airport [soon-to-be] for sale: comes with one outspoken customer and no hope of expansion
However, with growth opportunities at all London airports so limited thanks to this Coalition Government and fierce local resident opposition, any prospective owner of Stansted, London’s third biggest airport, can forget about new runways and increases in air traffic, instead needing to focus on developing customer service with the hope of charging more for a better, more efficient airport.
Any new owner of Stansted, when it eventually does go up for sale, would need to be comfortable with the prospect of Ryanair as its largest customer and face the wrath of Michael O’Leary.
Outside of London, the airline’s outspoken CEO today dressed up as an undertaker, complete with coffin and hearse, in protest at the opening of the Irish Government-funded Dublin Airport’s brand new terminal 2. Delivering a wreath inscribed ‘Irish Tourism R.I.P’, he said of the new terminal: “The T2 Taj Mahal perfectly represents ‘modern Ireland’ because it’s an over-specified unnecessary €1.2bn bankrupt property development that the Irish airlines don’t want and Irish tourism can’t afford to pay for.”
O'Leary said he would be willing to work with any prospective bidder for Stansted.
"A new owner could build a second terminal for £200m instead of the £4bn BAA wanted to spend and we'd be happy to co-fund it," he said. "We'd even take a minority stake of 5pc-10pc [in the bid vehicle] if a bidder felt that would tie us in better." he told the Telegraph last month.
What fun Stansted’s new owner will have when trying to raise further income from O’Leary’s budget-seeking, no frills-loving passengers.
Ryanair's no-frills approach to customer service during the holiday season