Heathrow says BAA name no longer stacks up
LONDON (Reuters) - Heathrow airport, owned by Spain's Ferrovial SA (FER.MC), is scrapping the over-arching BAA name, saying that its forced focus on its flagship airport makes the national origins of the BAA name redundant.
BAA, originally short for British Airports Authority, was floated in a wave of privatisations in the eighties, when it owned London's Gatwick and Stansted airports as well as Heathrow, four Scottish airports and Southampton.
A consortium led by infrastructure company Ferrovial bought the group in 2006, but was later forced by the Competition Commission to sell Gatwick and Stansted, as well as either Edinburgh or Glasgow.
Heathrow Chief Executive, Colin Matthews, said on Monday that the group was a different company from when BAA was formed.
"Over the last few years we have sold our stakes in Gatwick, Edinburgh, Budapest and Naples airports and we are in the process of selling Stansted Airport," he said.
"The BAA name no longer fits. We do not represent all British airports; we are not a public authority; and practically speaking the company is no longer a group as Heathrow will account for more than 95 percent of the business."
The group said Heathrow, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Southampton and Stansted Airports would operate solely under their own stand-alone brand.
Heathrow, which operates at close to capacity, has faced criticism for queues, delays and operational problems, but it successfully passed its biggest test during the London Olympics in the summer.
"Dropping the BAA name marks a symbolic break with the company of the past," Matthews said.
"This summer, the Olympics and Paralympics showed the UK and Heathrow at their best, delivering a welcome of which the UK could be proud. Now we have to build on that welcome still further, providing a better experience to our customers every single day."
(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Kate Holton)
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