London - Britain's Competition Commission confirmed Thursday that two of London's airports must be sold to a new owner in order to break up the monopoly held by operator BAA and improve services for passengers.
The regulator said Gatwick and Stansted airports will have to change hands, as well as one airport in Scotland - either Edinburgh or Glasgow.
The announcement after a two-year investigation follows a recommendation made by the Commission last December to end the dominance of BAA in the running of airports.
The sale of Gatwick airport in London is already under way. BAA will retain control over Heathrow airport, the major international hub in London.
The three airports should be sold within two years, said the Commission.
It was the "only way to address comprehensively the detriment to passengers and airlines from the complete absence of competition between BAA's south-east airports and between Edinburgh and Glasgow."
BAA, which was acquired by Spanish firm Ferrovial in 2006 for 10 billion pounds (14 billion dollars), has seen profits hit by the global economic downturn.
Last month, BAA said a fall in passenger numbers had dented its 2008 profits, which declined by 18.4 per cent from the previous year.
It reported a profit of 582 million pounds before tax and interest, down from 713 million pounds in 2007, as 2.7 per cent fewer travellers used the seven airports under BAA control. (dpa)
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