BAA has today (September 17) announced it intends to sell Gatwick, the UK”s second largest airport.
Almost 35 million passengers used the airport last year, which has been valued at ”1.8billion.
Colin Matthews, BAA”s chief executive, said: ”We have decided to begin the process of selling Gatwick Airport immediately.
”Gatwick has long been an important and valuable part of BAA and the decision to sell was not taken lightly.”
Manchester Airports Group, and Fraport which operates Frankfurt Airport, are said to be interested in buying Gatwick.
Sir Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Atlantic, is also understood to be forming a bidding consortium including the Dubai royal family.
Four weeks ago a Competition Commission report recommended BAA sell one its seven UK airports (see ABTN).
Mr Matthews said BAA would be ”realistic in our response” to the report, despite their opposition.
The Gatwick-based low cost carrier easyJet has also voiced concerns.
”Simply breaking-up BAA will do nothing to improve competition, and therefore the experience for the traveling public.
”Gatwick is a local monopoly and simply selling Gatwick to the highest bidder won”t change that fact,” it said in a statement.
EasyJet claimed BAA”s Spanish owner Ferrovial intended to sell Gatwick in order to reduce the debt it incurred when it bought the airports operator for ”10bn in 2006.
Andy Flower, Gatwick”s managing director, said it would be "business as usual" during the sale process.
He added: ”I know this was a difficult decision for BAA to make, but it is the right one for staff, passengers and customers.”
Earlier this month Ferrovial sold Belfast City Airport to an ABN Amro fund for ”132.5m (see ABTN).
Belfast City Airport sold (08/09/08)
BAA response to Competition Commission (20/08/08)
Competition Commission may require BAA to sell three airports (20/08/08)
CAA supports BAA breakup (27/05/08)
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