Campaigners welcome Gatwick sale

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to stop the expansion of Stansted airport have welcomed owner BAA's decision to sell Gatwick.

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to stop the expansion of Stansted airport have welcomed owner BAA's decision to sell Gatwick.

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) believes the company will also be forced to sell the Essex airport and is pressing the Competition Commission to use its powers to make it happen.

Campaign director Carol Barbone said it was a case of “one down, one to go” and BAA's reluctance to accept the reality of that situation meant Stansted's employees and the community face several months of unnecessary anguish and uncertainty.

“BAA clearly wants a pat on the head from the Competition Commission for putting Gatwick up for sale in a last ditch attempt to retain ownership of Stansted,” she said.

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“We expect it will be sorely disappointed.”

She said the commission's provisional findings provided compelling evidence to demonstrate the need for two of BAA's London airports to be sold.

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Jet planes from both airports fly over Suffolk and campaigners have been fighting proposals to change flightpaths and holding areas with air traffic set to double in the next 25 years.

But the sale of Gatwick is unlikely to make much difference to the amount of planes, unless Stansted is sold too, and its new owners abandon plans for a second runway.

BAA though is determined to keep Stansted.

BAA chief executive Colin Matthews said: “We believe that a change of ownership would interfere with the process of securing planning approval for a second runway, which remains a key feature of Government air transport policy.

“The commission itself states that a shortage of runway capacity in the south east is a main cause of poor service standards, but we believe its proposed remedies will delay delivery of that capacity.”

The decision to sell Gatwick had not been taken lightly.

“When the Competition Commission published its provisional findings, we said that we would be realistic in our response, though we disagree with the commission's report and the analysis on which it is founded,” he said.

Is breaking up BAA's monopoly a good move? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

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