Good competition

October 24th, 2011

When big changes are afoot, people’s natural reaction is to ask how it will impact on them.

Well, a decision was taken recently that barely caused a ripple in the news cycle, never the mind in the consciousness of the average man in the street.

Yet it could have significant consequences for you, your future holiday plans, your business, and the general economy of the west coast of Scotland.

The Competition Commission has ruled that BAA can no longer own both Glasgow and Edinburgh airports and the Spanish-owned company took the decision to put the east coast and retain ownership of Glasgow.

What does that mean for me and you? The truth is, we don’t know but if the commission’s hope was that people would benefit from cheaper flights, I wouldn’t be reaching for the holiday brochures just yet.

The likely winner in all this will be the airlines, which will be able to drive down their costs to the airports without any incentive to pass it on to the customer.

The consequence may be that the airports are engaged in a race to the bottom, trying to undercut each other, threatening their own investment plans in facilities and making’ economies’ with the staff that deliver the service.

So if we don’t benefit from these changes in a reduction in flight prices, and Glasgow Airport has less to spend on improving facilities and services, what is the point of these changes?

That was the question I was left asking myself after a useful meeting with management at Glasgow Airport recently.

As a key economic driver in the west of Scotland, responsible for the employment of more than 4,500 people, and a facility we rely on for our holidays and travel, I am clearly anxious to see the best possible deal for Glasgow Airport.

There is no doubt that competition can be a good thing when we all derive benefit, such as when we get our weekly shopping or renew our car insurance.

But we must ensure we deliver those objectives and it remains to be seen if the Competition Commission has managed this.