BAA may be forced to sell up to three of its UK airports because of concerns over its monopoly, the Competition Commission has ruled.

The watchdog is recommending that baa sell two of its three London airports – probably Stansted and Gatwick – as well as either Edinburgh or Glasgow airport.

Christopher Clarke, chairman of the BAA Airports inquiry group, said: ‘We have provisionally found that there are significant competition problems arising from BAA’s common ownership of seven UK airports. This is evident from a large number of factors including its lack of responsiveness to the needs of its airline customers and a lack of initiative in planning capacity.’

It is now seeking further views on which airports should be sold and the effectiveness of the system of regulation, and will publish its final report in 2009.

Risking delay

Colin Matthews, BAA’s chief executive, said: ‘By calling not just for a fundamental restructure of BAA but also for a review of the Government's Air Transport White Paper, the Commission risks delaying that delivery of new runways and making better customer service less, not more, likely.

'We will be seeking urgent clarification from the Government of how it believes this report's findings can be reconciled with the air transport policy it established in 2003 and its current review of economic regulation.

Analysis flawed
'We note however that this is not the end of the Competition Commission process and we will continue to point out to the Commission the many areas where we believe its analysis is flawed and its remedies would be disproportionate and counter-productive.’