BAA has decided to sell Stansted airport after calling a halt to a three-year long dispute.
In a statement the operator said: "After 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."
The ownership row began in 2009 after the Competition Commission found BAA's dominance created problems which adversely affected passengers and airlines using BAA airports.
BAA disputed the findings on the grounds that it had sold Gatwick, its second-largest airport, for £1.5bn in 2009. It has since sold Edinburgh airport to Global Infrastructure Partners for £809m, to comply with the commission's mandate to shed one of its bigger Scottish airports.
Global Infrastructure Partners also bought Gatwick airport from BAA in 2009 and London City airport from Irish businessman Dermot Desmond in 2006.
In July 2012, the Court of Appeal in London upheld a regulatory decision dating back to 2009 which told BAA to offload the asset, but BAA chief executive Colin Matthews had hoped to avoid a forced sale of Stansted during the current economic climate.
Matthews said at the time of the Court of Appeal judgment that a forced sale would discourage foreign shareholders from investing in the UK and have a “damaging impact” for overseas shareholders.
An article in the Telegraph reported him as saying: “Those are the same shareholders by the way who are currently investing £100m a month in Heathrow,” he said yesterday. “You can’t think why the country as a whole would wish to discourage inbound flows of equity because we depend on that to fund infrastructure.”
Stansted Airport is London’s third busiest airport and the UK’s fourth busiest airport. Approximately 17.5m passengers and 133,500 flights pass through Stansted every year.
The sale will leave BAA running just four airports: Heathrow; Southampton; Aberdeen; and Glasgow.
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