UK airports operator BAA is considering its response after the country's competition regulator formally ordered it to sell both London Gatwick and London Stansted, plus a major Scottish airport, within two years.

BAA insists that the Competition Commission's analysis is "flawed" and adds that the authority's remedies to address the competition issue at its airports "may be impractical" under the current economic conditions.

The airports operator, which has already put Gatwick on the market, says: "We accept the need to change and, having reorganised to improve customer service and having initiated the sale of Gatwick, BAA is already changing."

Today's final decision by the Competition Commission does not come as a surprise, because it had already indicated that it would order the sale of the two London airports and either Edinburgh or Glasgow.

The Commission says BAA must sell the airports in sequence: Gatwick first, then Stansted, and finally the Scottish airport.

It states that its inquiry has found competition problems with "adverse effects for both passengers and airlines" at all seven of the BAA airports, which also include London Heathrow, Southampton and Aberdeen.

Competition Commission airports inquiry chairman Christopher Clarke says: "We recognise that in using our powers in this way, we will have a significant impact on BAA's business.

"However, given the nature and scale of the competition problems we have found, we do not consider that alternative measures, such as the sale of only one of the London airports or greater regulation, will suffice."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news