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Thu 30 Aug 2007 02:04 PM

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BAA claims it will not sell UK airports

Airport operator says it is not planning to sell Heathrow or Gatwick, which has been linked with Dubai.

BAA, the owner of Britain's three biggest airports, is not planning to sell any airports and has not decided on any job cuts, the firm said on Thursday after a newspaper report said it was planning 2,000 job cuts.

However, BAA, the airport unit of Spanish infrastructure and construction firm Ferrovial, said it was undertaking a review of back-office functions, which did not involve security or customer service staff at its airports.

"No conclusions have yet been reached and the review is ongoing," BAA said.

UK daily The Times reported on Thursday that BAA, whose airports include London's Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, was looking to axe up to 2,000 jobs and may be preparing to sell one or more of its airports.

"Ferrovial have a huge debt burden, and they can't sustain that," The Times quoted a BAA source as saying. "They are really drilling down costs, and there is going to be a complete restructuring of the business, with a couple of thousand of jobs going. It cannot be the security staff, but every other element of the business is up for review."

Ferrovial declined to comment on the matter on Thursday.

The sale of Gatwick, the UK's second busiest airport, has been linked to state-owned aviation holding firm Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE).

The Times reported earlier this month that DAE may consider a bid for Gatwick Airport if it is auctioned off, citing sources close to the company.

However, DAE has denied the report, stating that "at this time DAE is not considering bidding for Gatwick Airport".

It is anticipated the Gatwick will be the subject of a three billion pound ($6 billion) auction in the near future.

BAA has come under criticism for long queues and ageing infrastructure at Heathrow and Gatwick. The British airport operator was bought by Ferrovial in a 10.1 billion pound ($20.4 billion), debt-fuelled takeover last year.

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