Virgin CEO Richard Branson ready to buy Gatwick Airport in London

According to the Associated Press, Virgin Atlantic chairman Sir Richard Branson showed an interest in acquiring Gatwick Airport.

London Gatwick is not officially yet for sale but the Competition Commission lately recommended that the British Airports Authority, which presently owns the premises, should sell the Sussex airport along with two other airports from its seven-sites portfolio in order to improve competition in the London airport market in particular, and in the British market to a larger extent.

Indeed, BAA, owned by Spanish conglomerate Ferrovial since 2006, has been also criticized for its poor management in London airports. The Commission considered that the customer service offered by BAA in its seven premises was waning due to the company’s monopoly.

Now, Richard Branson says that his Virgin group would be definitely interested in bidding for Gatwick when it comes up for sale. He added: "We are open to being courted by anyone who is interested in bidding".

London Gatwick is valued somewhere between $3.6 and $5 billion, and according to the Daily Telegraph, Richard Branson has apparently been in intensive discussions with several potential partners to raise the funds necessary for a bid.

Branson said: "It now looks as though they are going to break up the British Airports Authority and so they should. For the last few years BAA have been an absolute embarrassment".

Although the Commission does not have the power to force BAA to sell, it is serious to believe that when the Commission hands over its final report next year, it will recommend that Gatwick is sold off.

But Richard Branson is one among others who have showed an interest in acquiring London’s second major airport. Australian company Macquarie Airports (owing Birmingham, Bristol and Sydney Airports) as well as the Manchester Airports Group (owning Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports) and Aeroports de Paris are also said to be monitoring the situation.

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