U.K. looking at airport competition

Marketplace Staff Apr 22, 2008

TEXT OF STORY

Renita Jablonski: After piles of lost bags got backed up at London Heathrow’s new Terminal 5, there are some new thoughts on how to handle the airport’s problems.
The company that runs Heathrow and six other British airports could be broken up. From London, here’s more from Stephen Beard..


Stephen Beard: Britain’s competition regulator has entered the fray, tackling the vexed question: What to do about Heathrow? In an interim report, the regulator hints at drastic action. The Spanish company that owns Heathrow also owns London’s other two main airports, as well as an additional four in other parts of the U.K. The regulator says this dominance may be bad for passengers and airlines. Jim French is an airline boss. He’s campaigning against what he calls “this monopolistic grip” on British aviation.

Jim French: There’s a lack of competitive tension between any of these airports. And consequently, there’s a lack of innovation, there’s overpricing and there isn’t the normal customer and supplier relationship.

The competition regulator says he’ll make his final recommendation this summer. It’s widely expected he’ll call for the Spanish company to be forced to sell off at least one of its London airports.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.