The announcement that the Competition Commission is to accelerate the sale by Ferrovial of either Glasgow or Edinburgh Airport, may be considered in certain transport circles as a major benefit for Scotland's airline users.
(“Scottish airport sale in weeks”, the Herald, October 8). I would suggest that before the bunting is hung out a reality check needs to be taken by possible purchasers, and movers and shakers in the aviation businesses in Scotland. The old adage “buyer beware” should be heeded.
In July this year, the Competition Commission stated that “the new ownership of Gatwick Airport... has given a foretaste of the benefits competition can bring”. Analysis of this statement , which, as presented by the CC, is very light on detail, would indicate that there is very little foundation to this statement. There has indeed been improvements to terminal facilities at Gatwick, but these are a continuation of a capital investment programme started by the previous owners. Supposed growth in passenger and air transport movements should be measured against a background of a much lower statistical base line, as Gatwick suffered major losses of airlines and passenger numbers in 2008-2010. It should also be noted that the purchaser of the Scottish airport will have to service a debt created through the possible purchase, and the on-going running costs and will have to raise funds for further capital spend.
It is indeed possible that Ferrovial might wish to sell one of its Scottish airports in order to reduce its overall debts following the purchase of the British Airports Authority, or to use the funds raised to invest in alternative aviation projects, but whatever the reason, it should be allowed to do so in an open commercial market, and not one where it is forced to sell in haste to meet a deadline by an organisation that may have a comprehension of competition, but shows very little appreciation of the aviation market, and in particular the parameters under which the Scottish aviation scene operates,
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