BAA Seeks Second Chance to Appeal Forced Stansted Sale

London Heathrow airport owner BAA Airports Ltd. won permission to present its appeal to overturn an order that it must sell its Stansted terminal to meet antitrust rules.

The U.K. Court of Appeal said today it would hear the request from the airport operator, owned by a group including Spain’s Ferrovial SA (FER), the company said in an e-mailed statement. While BAA is appealing specifically against a Competition Appeal Tribunal ruling from February, the case centers on the 2009 decision by Britain’s Competition Commission that BAA must sell Stansted and one of its Scottish airports.

“We are pleased that permission to appeal has been granted and look forward to presenting our arguments before the Court of Appeal,” BAA said.

In its decision, the Competition Appeal Tribunal dismissed the company’s argument the ruling should be overturned because the U.K. airport market had become more competitive since the agency’s decision three years ago. In October 2010, the Court of Appeal rejected BAA’s claim that the regulator’s review of the case was biased and the initial decision should be rescinded.

Siobhan Allen, a spokeswoman for the Competition Commission, declined to immediately comment.

BAA last month agreed to sell Edinburgh airport to U.S. firm Global Infrastructure Partners Ltd. for 807.2 million pounds ($1.27 billion) to comply with the antitrust regulator’s order. Stansted is the company’s second-busiest airport, following its forced disposal of London Gatwick in 2009, and the biggest base for Ryanair Holdings Plc (RYA), Europe’s No. 1 discount airline.

“This seventh appeal, by the BAA, will further delay the sale of Stansted, proving yet again that the BAA has no regard for passengers, competition or tourism as it attempts to retain its stranglehold over London traffic,” Ryanair said in an e-mailed statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy Hodges in London at jhodges17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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