BAA Rebrands

AIRPORT owner BAA yesterday signalled the end of an era by scrapping its name to focus on its London hub Heathrow.

Formerly state-owned BAA - which was privatised in 1987 and sold to Spain's Ferrovial in 2006 - plans to drop the BAA brand and name airports individually, such as Heathrow, Southampton and Glasgow.

BAA said the move made sense because Heathrow now accounted for more than 95 per cent of the business.

Regulators forced it to sell its other major airports, Gatwick and Stansted, over competition concerns and to choose whether to sell off Edinburgh or Glasgow airports.

The firm appealed against the decision to sell Stansted and Glasgow but eventually lost.

Heathrow's chief executive Colin Matthews said the group was a different company from when BAA was formed.

He said: "Over the last few years we have sold our stakes in Gatwick, Edinburgh, Budapest and Naples airports and we are in the process of selling Stansted Airport.

"The BAA name no longer fits.

We do not represent all British airports, we are not a public authority and, practically speaking, the company is no longer a group."

BAA, which stood originally for British Airports Authority, was created as a public authority in 1965.

It expanded by acquiring Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow airports in 1971 and also owned Prestwick airport, but sold it in 1992.

It was privatised and floated in 1987 and a consortium led by Ferrovial bought the company and de-listed it from the stock exchange in 2006.

Matthews has criticised the Government for refusing to allow Heathrow to expand with a third runway, which he said may mean it loses out to continental European rivals such as Paris and Frankfurt.

Ferrovial now owns 39 per cent of the firm, while sovereign wealth funds in Qatar and Singapore, Canadian investor Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec and Alinda Capital Partners own the rest.

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