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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: The battle to take over one of Europe's largest airport operators is lifting off. A large Australian bank has just joined a consortium led by Goldman Sachs and is poised to make a bid. From London, Stephen Beard has the story.

STEPHEN BEARD: The target is BAA, the company that runs London's three main airports: Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. An $18 billion bid is already on the table. The Goldman Sachs group is expected to top that with an offer worth more than $19 billion.

Not surprising, says Kieran Daly of Air Transport Intelligence. Air traffic in Europe is forecast to double over the next decade and a half.

KIERAN DALY: For big international airports like the London airports that BAA operates, if anything the question is how are they going to cope with all the traffic in the future.

He says that after 9/11 investors lost interest in aviation-related stocks. But now they are waking up to the massive growth potential.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.