Airlines complain over BAA airportsCompetition body reveals gripes

10 August 2007

Airport sign directing travellers to the terminal.

Competition chiefs have received a number of complaints from airlines about the ‘poor quality of service and facilities’ at BAA-run airports, it has emerged.

There had also been ‘widespread public criticisms’, particularly of the length of security queues, the Competition Commission (CC) added.

BAA runs seven UK airports, operating at Stansted, Southampton, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, as well as at Heathrow and Gatwick.

Passenger delays

CC deputy chairman Christopher Clarke said: ‘We are well aware of the concerns expressed in the media and elsewhere over the operations of BAA's airports, especially Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick.

‘These include delays experienced by passengers going through security or immigration, as well as the availability of facilities such as lifts, escalators and travelators, and other aspects which may affect passengers' experience passing through airports, such as overcrowding, signage and cleanliness.’

Mr Clarke is chairing the CC's inquiry into the supply of airport services by BAA in the UK.

His comments came as the CC published an ‘issues statement’ laying out exactly what it would be looking at in relation to BAA's operations in an inquiry that begun in March this year and is expected to be concluded at the end of next year.

Runway capacity

BAA Chief Executive Stephen Nelson said: ‘We welcome the opportunity to state our case to the commission, and we remain confident that we will demonstrate that BAA's ownership of airports in the south east and Scotland is in the interests of passengers.’

He added: ‘BAA accepts that the experience of too many passengers using London airports is unsatisfactory. But the problems of congestion and delay which affect passengers have their roots in lack of terminal and runway capacity, not the ownership structure of BAA.

‘What London airports especially need is investment to improve the passenger experience. We have tabled ambitious plans to transform our airports and are willing to spend heavily to deliver these solutions. We are working hard to win permission to build new runway capacity at Stansted and Heathrow.

‘We are also investing significant sums in improving the passenger experience by recruiting additional staff, investing in new equipment and transforming some of our existing terminals.’