Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘virgin’

No sooner do I say that the BAA case will be a hot topic this fall on yesterday’s Things with Wings Radio Show (thanks, Benet!) than BAA beats the Competition Commission to the punch and puts London’s Gatwick Airport up for sale. According to BAA’s chief, quoted in the Financial Times, “We have decided to begin the process of selling Gatwick Airport immediately. . . . Gatwick has long been an important and valuable part of BAA and the decision to sell was not taken lightly. We believe the airport’s customers, staff and business will benefit from the earliest possible resolution of current uncertainty.” This comes after the Competition Commission’s provisional findings indicated that it would order BAA to sell off two London airports and either Edinburgh or Glasgow in early 2009. (See my posts on the provisional findings here and here.)

According to the International Herald Tribune, BAA will continue to contend for keeping Stansted Airport — “At Stansted, we believe that a change of ownership would interfere with the process of securing planning approval for a second runway, which remains a key feature of government air transport policy” — and its three Scotland airports.

The Competition Commission released a statement today indicating that between now and its 2009 final report, it will “take account of any action by BAA in the meantime which may impact the competition problems we have provisionally identified.” Will the Gatwick sale delay the commission’s final recommendations, or will it come quickly enough to send signals about competition in the new London airport market?

And now comes the fun part: airport operators have been circling Gatwick for weeks now, planning their bids for whenever BAA was forced to relinquish the airport. Potential buyers include the Australian infrasturcture giant Macquarie Group, Manchester Airport Group (which owns Manchester Airport in England), Hochtief (which operates and owns shares in several European airports), Singapore’s Changi Airports International, and Fraport (which runs Frankfurt International Airport). The most interesting entry in the mix is Richard Branson, involved through either Virgin Atlantic or the umbrella Virgin Group (news reports are unclear). Virgin has expressed interest in joining a consortium to bid on Gatwick. With this cast involved, the sale of Gatwick may be one of the highest-profile airport deals ever.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

A much-trafficked article yesterday from Ireland’s Sunday Business Post offers a thorough takedown of Richard Branson’s green claims about the Virgin Group’s airlines:

In September 2006, Virgin boss Richard Branson pledged €1.9 billion towards tackling global warming. For the next ten years, he announced, the profits from his aviation and rail businesses would go towards combating the biggest, most complex problem that mankind has ever faced. . . . However, a look at the not-very-small print revealed that this amazing gesture would not be a matter of taking the profits from Branson’s polluting industries and using them to protect vast tracts of the Amazon.

In fact, the money would go to a new division of the Virgin conglomerate, called Virgin Fuel. Branson was simply gearing himself up to make more money. But as always, the PR spin was that he’d be doing the rest of us a favour in the process.

Branson has built an empire on this perception. . . . Whether it’s flights, records, mobile phones, cola, radio, television, hotels, trains or holidays, sticking the word ‘‘Virgin’’ in front of something supposedly makes it cheaper yet cooler, with the bearded, grinning boss fronting many of his own ad campaigns. Because if a hippy says it’s all right, then it must be. Mustn’t it?

Since Virgin Fuel was set up in 2006, the tide has very much turned against bio-fuels with the realisation that far too much agricultural land could be eaten up by fuel crops. Palm oil, one of the major biofuels, is contributing to global warming as virgin (no pun intended) rainforests in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia are decimated to make way for palm plantations. (more…)

Read Full Post »