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Passengers make their way to check-in in the departures area of Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport. - 


Stacey Vanek-Smith: England's Footsie is up three-quarters of a percent. And some big news in that country. The major airports in London have been privately held by a company called BAA for about 20 years. Now regulators are calling for a break-up. From London, Stephen Beard reports.

Stephen Beard: Britain's Competition Commission says that BAA provides a poor service to airlines and their passengers. And lack of competition is to blame.

With Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick, the company has a virtual monopoly in London. The Commission calls, in effect, that Stansted and Gatwick to be sold off. It also wants BAA to be stripped of either Glasgow or Edinburgh airport in Scotland.

The company has been widely criticized for overcrowding and long delays, especially at Heathrow. The chaotic opening of a new terminal there turned into a national humiliation.

Analyst Howard Wheeldon says the break-up should improve matters:

Howard Wheeldon: The pressure will then begin on BAA, as the owner of the main international hub airport of Heathrow, to get its act together to provide a stronger, better level of service to its customers.

BAA says the Commission's analysis is flawed and the break-up would be counterproductive.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.