And I'm worried about the baggage retrieval system they've got at Heathrow
Many people think the letters "BAA" stand for "British Airports Authority", but this hasn't been true for a long time. The company owns three London airports (Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted) and four Scottish ones, and therefore controls a large slice of UK civilian aviation, but it was sold off by the Conservative Government in 1986 and is now owned by Spanish firm Grupo Ferrovial.
BAA gains its revenues from landing fees charged to airlines, and from retail operations. Landing fees are regulated to prevent BAA abusing its near-monopoly position: as a result, landing fees at Heathrow are considerably lower than at rival airports in Europe (Paris Charles de Gaulle, Amsterdam Schiphol, Frankfurt). BAA has to make up the difference through retail.
So is that the purpose of Terminal Five - more shops, more delays, more pointless duty-free purchases? Not entirely.
BAA is regulated according to a formula that depends on its asset base - so-called RAB. As Michael Ryan (boss of RyanAir) complains to anyone who will listen, this means BAA can make higher profits from investing in
Bear that in mind when you hear them talking up Terminal Five in terms of passenger convenience.
Oh, and a third runway at Heathrow? Ha, ha, bloody ha.
- Heathrow held back by low landing fees (Daily Telegraph, 7 September 2007)
- Heathrow and Gatwick quinquennial review (Competition Commission, 2007)
- Written evidence by British Airways to the House of Commons Select Committee on Transport (November 2007)