MAG to buy Stansted

Heathrow Airport Holdings Limited, formerly BAA, has agreed to sell London’s third-busiest airport, Stansted Airport Limited, to Manchester Airports Group for £1.5 billion (US$2.4bn).  The sale is expected to close by the end of February and follows a three-year legal battle, after the UK’s Competition Commission ordered the operator in 2009 to sell three of its airports.
Colin Matthews, Chief Executive of Heathrow, said: “Stansted Airport and its people have been part of our company for a long time.  We wish the new owners every success and are confident the airport will continue to flourish.  We will focus on improving Heathrow, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton airports.”
Manchester Airport Group will add Stansted to its existing portfolio of Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports.
The news comes after the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) published consultation papers on whether Stansted should be fully deregulated from 2014.
The publication offers the CAA’s latest thinking and questions if the airport should be subject to regulation but does not cover the type of control that any licence would contain.
The CAA said it is “minded to rule” that Stansted should not be fully deregulated.
The authority considers the airport’s present market power to low-cost and charter carries may be, and is likely to become, substantial between 2014 and 2019, amid a battle for airport capacity in the London region.
The CAA said Stansted has a substantial degree of market power in cargo operations and provisionally concluded it would be better to “remedy possible abuse” by implementing economic regulation and general competition law.  It has also suggested that consumer benefits from continuing economic regulation are likely to outweigh possible adverse impact on the airport.
Director of Regulatory Policy at the CAA, Iain Osborne, stated: “While we have provisionally found Stansted should be subject to continuing regulation to protect consumers, that view will now be consulted on.  We look forward to engaging with our
stakeholders closely throughout the process especially for their views on the most proportionate form of regulation to reflect the circumstances at Stansted.”