BAA could be forced to sell one of its three London airports after the Office of Fair Trading today proposed to refer the airport operator to the Competition Commission.

The OFT announced its intention to refer baa following its acquisition in June by Ferrovial, a deal which saw the Spanish construction group gain control of 90% of passenger trips in the southeast.

BAA owns Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted Airports near London as well as Southampton airport. According to the OFT proposal: ‘these airports could under separate ownership compete to attract air passengers.’

The proposal also said: ‘Significant investment at airports in the south east is planned. Without competition – investment could be inefficient.’

The proposal to refer BAA is provisional at the moment but a final decision will be made following an eight week consultation period ending on 8 February next year.

John Fingleton, chief executive at OFT said: 'We believe that the current market structure does not deliver best value for air travellers in the UK, and that greater competition within the industry could bring significant benefits for passengers.

‘There is evidence of poor quality and high charges - BAA's investment plans, which are of great importance to the UK, have raised significant concerns among its customers. These are signs of a market not working well for consumers and we believe that a full inquiry into BAA's structure is justified.'