BAA agrees to sale of Stansted

UK airports operator BAA has finally fallen in line with the Competition Commission over Stantsted airport, ending a three-year long legal stand-off over the Essex airport.

The airports operator said yesterday it would not mount a final appeal to the Supreme Court, following the Court of Appeal last month upholding a competition ruling going back to 2009, calling for sale of Stansted.

According to a spokesman for BAA, the operator was still in fundamental disagreement with the commission's position on Stansted, given that it served a different market from its other London airport, Heathrow. The spokesman added, however, that it had been advised that it would not have the legal grounds for a further appeal.

The group 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 chief executive, Colin Matthews, had looking to delay the sale given the depressed market conditions.

The airport, which relies heavily on leisure travellers, has taken a hit hard with the double dip recession and has been losing passengers since 2007.