UK airport operator BAA has agreed to sell Stansted Airport in London, ending a long legal battle with the UK’s Competition Commission (CC).
CC executive Laura Carstensen said that BAA, which is partly owned by Spanish infrastructure firm Ferrovial, has finally agreed to proceed with the sale of Stansted Airport.
"We believe that both passengers and airlines will benefit from the introduction of new ownership and increased competition," Carstensen said.
The operator has been fighting a 2009 Competition Commission ruling that asked BAA to sell Stansted to encourage competition among airports in London.
BAA said in a statement: "Having carefully considered the Court of Appeal’s recent ruling, BAA has decided not to appeal to the Supreme Court and is now proceeding with the sale of Stansted Airport.
"We still believe that the Competition Commission ruling fails to recognise that Stansted and Heathrow serve different markets," BAA added.
Following the sale of Stansted, BAA will be operating four airports in the UK: London Heathrow and Southampton Airport in England, and Scotland’s Aberdeen and Glasgow airports.
Ryanair Holdings, which is interested in buying a stake in Stansted, has called for the early sale of the airport, which has seen its passenger numbers drop from 24 million passengers in 2007 to 18 million in 2011.
Ryanair Communications head Stephen McNamara said: "The sale of Stansted into separate ownership will lead to more competition, lower passenger charges, improved passenger services and the roll out of additional and much needed traffic growth at competitive prices in Stansted."
BAA previously sold Edinburgh and Gatwick airports to Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) in May 2012 and December 2009 respectively.
Ferrovial has already agreed to sell a 10.62% stake in BAA to Qatar Holding for $750m.
Image: Stansted airport handles nearly 17.5 million passengers and 133,500 flights every year. Photo: courtesy of Oxyman.