Three airlines are asking British
airport company BAA to cut back on improvements at Gatwick airport,
saying the airports' passsenger load does not warrant the project's
$1.4 billion price tag.
The Guardian of London reports that British Airways, easyjet,
and Ryanair have sent a joint letter to BAA, which operates three
London airports, saying they would eventually have to pass along
the costs of the improvements to their passengers. The airlines
said the business plan supporting the improvements was unproven,
citing Gatwicks' 12 percent decrease in passengers in 2009.
The improvements are taking place
even as BAA is trying to sell Gatwick. In 2008, the company was
ordered to divest its self of some holdings by Britains'
Competition Commission, and the airport was put on the market in
September of last year. In the letter, the airline executives say
the eventual new owner may have a less expensive plan for airport
improvements. The airlines are specifically targeting a $318
million plan that BAA says would allow 95 percent of Gatwicks'
passengers to board airplanes from the terminal rather than using
Two groups are involved in the bidding for Gatwick: Manchester
Airports Group and Global Infrastructure Partners. The Guardian
reports the expected price to be in the neighborhood of $2.2
Meanwhile, BAA announced earlier this month that it plans to
appeal the Competition Commission's order to sell the airport. In a
news release on the company website, BAA said there were ties
between a member of the Commission and one of the companies bidding
on Gatwick and other airports they were ordered to sell. The
Commission responded that one of its members was an advisor to
Greater Manchester Pension fund, which is part of MAG. BAA also
says forcing the sale in the current economic climate will have an
adverse financial impact on the company.