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BAA makes U-turn on Stansted

BAA has finally relinquished its battle to hold on to Stansted. This represents a radical about turn for the airport operator, which had earlier vowed to fight through the courts any forced sell-off by competition watchdogs.

It is thought to be agreeing with the Competition Commission’s order to sell the Essex airport along with Gatwick, as it has won its quest for a third runway at Heathrow. The move also comes with Spanish-owner Ferrovial struggling with debt.The Competition Commission will make its final decision early next month, and is expected to order BAA to give up Gatwick - which it is already selling - Stansted, and one of its two large Scottish airports.

Industry insiders have been predicted a climbdown by BAA ever since the government controversially decided to support the construction of a third runway at Heathrow, which was seen as a bigger victory.

The sale of Stansted is to generate much-needed cash for Ferrovial, which is struggling with debts taken on during rapid expansion, according to The Times.