In this week's Spectator, Graham Brady makes a compelling case for privatising Manchester Airport, which is owned by Manchester City Council and the nine neighbouring Boroughs. Manchester Airport also owns Bournemouth, East Midlands and Humberside Airports and has been valued at £3 billion.
Graham suggest some radical ideas about what could be done with the proceeds. Read the full article HERE.
I'm glad the Competition Commission is launching an inquiry into BAA's monopoly, but I am not holding my breath that it will be broken up (as I believe it should be). I've flown three times this year so far, twice from Heathrow and once from City Airport. It has been several years since I have been through Heathrow and I have to say I was shocked at the conditions there. It is very easy to lay all the blame at BAA's feet, and I do indeed lay most of the blame with them for failing to upgrade existing facilities and failing to prioritise properly. If they spent half as much time and money on passenger facilities as they do cramming shops into their airports the passenger might be better catered for.
However, we have to recognise that passenger numbers have mushroomed over the last decade to an extent where the planning process has failed to keep up with the needs of airport and indeed runway capacity. Terminal 5 will open soon, but the fact is that it was needed five, if not ten, years ago. I am not saying that we should acceded to all new capacity demands from airport operators or airlines, but we cannot allow planning inquiries to take the length of time they have been taking. I know the government has suggested some alterations to the process already.
Government has to make a clear choice soon. Either we recognise that people have the right to travel at will, and we make the facilities available for them to do so, or government will have to restrict air travel if it won't allow the building of new terminals, new airports and runways. If it takes the second choice it must do so in the full knowledge that Britain as a world economic power will be adversely affected.
So yes, BAA must shoulder the large part of the blame for the state of its airports, but they are not alone.