Select Committee on Transport Fourth Report

7 Conclusion

86. The continuing demand for capacity at our airports raises important questions about the nature and extent of expansion. BAA's position in the market means that what is good for aviation is usually good for BAA. Where our views diverge is that we do not think that what is good for BAA is necessarily good for aviation. BAA claim to be best placed to deliver new capacity. It would be a strange company indeed that did not make such a claim. To date, this has been their key argument in favour of retaining common ownership of—in particular—Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.

87. However, the evidence we have received over the course of this inquiry and our previous inquiries into aviation leads us to a different conclusion. It is our view that the drawbacks of common ownership outweigh the advantages, and that there is much to be gained from a state of affairs where BAA did not enjoy such substantial market power. The extent to which BAA needs chivvying along by the regulator reflects poorly on their avowed commitment to service quality. We are sceptical of arguments which deny the possibility of increased competition: our evidence from the CAA indicates that this simply is not the case. We hope that the Competition Commission will take the steps necessary to ensure a healthy, competitive airports sector for the years to come.

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