Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The BAA is Not That Badly Broke

I've been a critic of the BAA and I remain so in some aspects of what they do. However, having read the Competition Commission's report I find myself agreeing with the BAA that it is flawed. Take this one statement. "In Scotland, BAA has until recently been noticeably slow to develop new routes at Glasgow and Edinburgh, whilst at Aberdeen, its investment plans are regarded as unambitious despite relatively high levels of profitability. At Southampton, it has shown a reluctance to respond to its customers’ demands." It's not the BAA's job to develop new routes, that's a job for the airlines. Of course they have a part to play, but it's a small part. For Scotland's size and with all the other factors air travel is well developed and will not be magically bettered by a bit of airport competition.

The Competition Commission's report reads like a thesis and they need a sharp dose of reality. Many of the problems that exist are about capacity, government, planning and CAA regulations; all this is against a background of demand for air travel. While it's easy to talk about these things it's much harder to fix them and splitting up the airports is not a panacea, nor much of a solution. I remain unconvinced that it will help and once again I'm minded to think that none of this may have happened if BAA had not been bought by a Spanish company.


Ken Dyer said...

I agree. I am no fan of them, but what has route development got to do with the BAA? The BAA run’s airport’s, it’s the airlines that develop the routes. Sure the BAA can encourage airlines by discounting its charges (although that could never be significant), but ultimately it’s the airlines that have the expense of operating the aircraft, running the reservations systems etc.

Southampton is as you know, not a million miles away from my workplace. I’m wondering exactly what the BAA is supposed to do there? There is little space, the airport cannot grow significantly, it’s heavily dependent on one particular airline and traffic has reduced (and there are more cutbacks on the way)…small wonder the BAA are reluctant to pour more investment into it.

How separating out BAA’ s airports is supposed to change all this is beyond my understanding. Changing the name of who owns an airport is not going to change who uses it!

Ken Dyer said...

Just a little snippet to add to my previous comment...

Interestingly we've just done our monthly pax analysis for July...this covers pax comments/complaints etc.

And the worst airport (for the 3rd month running) in terms of passenger satisfaction is...Manchester. 2nd place goes to...Bournemouth . And the most popular of our main departure airports...Gatwick!

Admittedly we are a small airline, so this is not necessarily indicitive, but I think MAN's top position for the 3rd month running may say something? And who owns Bournemouth Airport?....Manchester of course!

From our very subjective point of view, Manchester's speculated acquisition of one of the London airports does not inspire us!