Airport operator BAA is to sell Edinburgh airport, the Spanish-owned company has announced.Â
BAA, which operates six UK airports, had been ordered by the Competition Commission (CC) to sell either Edinburgh or Glasgow airport.
The company said it had decided that Edinburgh would be the one to be sold and that if all goes well the sale will be agreed by next summer.
After a long inquiry, which has led to numerous legal challenges, the CC found that BAA's ownership of UK airports was anti-competitive, and ordered the company to sell Gatwick, Stansted and one of either Glasgow or Edinburgh. Gatwick has already been sold to an American concern and BAA is still disputing the Stansted decision.
BAA, which also operates Heathrow, Southampton and Aberdeen airports, said: "We are now commencing preparations for a sale (of Edinburgh) and expect to formally approach the market in the new year with a view to agreeing a sale by summer 2012.
BAA chief executive Colin Matthews added: "Edinburgh is a great airport with a great team and a great future and we will be very sorry to see it leave BAA. We remain committed to Scotland and we will continue our long-term investment to improve passenger and airline experience at Aberdeen and Glasgow, as well as at Edinburgh until the sale is complete."
Jim O'Sullivan, managing director of Edinburgh Airport, said: "Today's announcement brings the clarification that many had been calling for and although we will be sorry to leave BAA, we do so in the knowledge we are in an extremely strong and healthy position.
"We will now begin preparing for the sale process, but irrespective of who may own it, the team at Edinburgh Airport will undoubtedly continue to deliver for its passengers, the city and Scotland as a whole."
Amanda McMillan, managing director of Glasgow Airport, said: "Clearly we welcome today's announcement as it marks the end of what has been a prolonged period of uncertainty. Now a final decision has been reached we can concentrate our efforts on ensuring Glasgow Airport, as part of BAA, continues to deliver for its passengers, the city and Scotland as a whole."
Hugh Aitken, commercial manager for Scotland for low-fare airline easyJet, said: "We welcome today's announcement and look forward to working with the new owners. Edinburgh Airport is hugely important to our network and we firmly believe increased competition will improve Edinburgh and Glasgow airports and help us in our aim to make travel easy and affordable."