BAA could stage a dramatic about-turn by selling Stansted, the Essex airport that handles 23m passengers a year and is the centre for no-frills airlines in Britain.

The move will finally end BAA’s domination of London airports. It has owned and operated the London trio of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted since it was created 40 years ago as a government agency.

The airports group, majority-owned by Spain’s Ferrovial, has to date fought to keep hold of Stansted, despite recommendations from competition watchdogs that it should sell.

Sunday Times, Financial Times, Daily Telegraph