Is breaking up so hard to do?
Too many shops, too many queues, not enough staff — the complaints are well-rehearsed and calls for the company to be broken up grow louder after every fresh disaster. At least they could get rid of Gatwick, and possibly Stansted too, the critics say.
But BAA itself insists breaking it up would jeopardise its planned programme of long-term investment at Britain’s airports.
Its former chief executive Stephen Nelson told the Competition Commission a year ago: “Our analysis is that the fundamental problem for passengers is lack of capacity, not the structure of BAA.
“Putting BAA in the dock for a complex set of problems – with deep legacy causes – will not help solve them. As well as tackling the immediate issue of queuing times, we are ready to make major, long-term investments in British airports, that will free the travelling public from congestion and provide a good experience at our airports, all for a few extra pounds per passenger.
“But to achieve this, we need a strong and united BAA. We have the balance sheet scale to finance these projects efficiently and retain the unrivalled expertise in planning and building new airport facilities on time and on budget.”
That was before T5 of course but BAA’s position remains the same. What do you think of the basic point? Would a break-up necessarily result in an enhanced experience for the long-suffering passenger?