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Gatwick airport to be sold

BAA has announced today that it is to sell Gatwick airport to Global Infrastructure Partners for £1.51 billion.

The new owners also own London City airport. BAA first revealed plans to sell Gatwick in September 2008 before the end of the Competition Commission's UK airports market investigation.

Colin Matthews, BAA's Chief Executive, said: "Gatwick and its people have long been a central part of BAA and we are proud of the airport's development as one of the world's leading international airports.

"BAA is changing and today's announcement marks a new beginning for both Gatwick and BAA. We wish Gatwick well for the future and are confident that the airport will flourish under new ownership.

"BAA will focus on improving Heathrow and our other airports."

Gatwick is the busiest single runway airport in the world, with 32.2 million passengers passing through during the year to September 2009.

Earlier this year, the Competition Commission ordered BAA to sell Gatwick, Stansted and either Glasgow or Edinburgh airports.

The sale is expected to complete in December, subject to EU merger regulation clearance and other conditions.

Low cost airline, easyJet, is Gatwick’s principle carrier with nearly 10 million passengers and almost 30% market share. Commenting on the sale of Gatwick to GIP, easyJet’s Chief Executive Andy Harrison, said:

“We welcome this change in ownership and look forward to working with GIP.

"Regardless of who owns Gatwick, it is still a monopoly. Therefore it is vital that Gatwick is properly regulated to protect airline passengers from the new owners exploiting their market power.

"It is vital that the Government’s review of airport regulation produces a tougher and more effective system than the current discredited one which has contributed so much to the poor sate of London’s airports.“

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Written by: Maxine Clarke, October 21, 2009