Tribunal Gives BAA More Time for UK Airports’ Sale

20 December 2009 (Last Updated December 20th, 2009 18:30)

The UK's Competition Appeal Tribunal has said it will allow BAA more time to argue its case against the sale of three of its UK airports. The tribunal had previously said the airport operator had two years to sell Gatwick, Stansted, and Glasgow or Edinburgh Airports, but BAA lodged an a

The UK's Competition Appeal Tribunal has said it will allow BAA more time to argue its case against the sale of three of its UK airports.

The tribunal had previously said the airport operator had two years to sell Gatwick, Stansted, and Glasgow or Edinburgh Airports, but BAA lodged an appeal against the decision.

In coming months, both sides will debate the future of the airport operations, according to the BBC.

BAA appealed the decision, saying it did not give it enough time to argue its case, and that the ruling panel was biased in its decision to downsize the operator's business.

BAA owns six of the UK's seven international airports and has criticised links between a member on the commission panel and Manchester Airport Group (MAG), which is interested in buying the airports, citing a conflict of interest.

The tribunal backed down after concluding BAA's concerns were justified.

"A fair-minded and informed observer would conclude that there was a real possibility of bias affecting the deliberations, thinking and ultimate outcome of the investigation," the tribunal said in its judgement.

The tribunal, however, dismissed BAA's argument that the commission had not given it sufficient time to complete the sale.

In March 2009, the Competition Commission ruled that BAA must sell Gatwick, Stansted and either Edinburgh or Glasgow airports within 24 months.

BAA sold Gatwick to Global Infrastructure Partners for £1.51bn in October 2009.