The planning inquiry into the building of a second runway and terminal at London Stansted by BAA has been postponed by ministers because of the uncertainty over the future ownership of the airport.

The Competition Commission is expected in a landmark report this month to demand the break-up of BAA, the world’s biggest airports operator and, since 2006, a subsidiary of Spain’s Ferrovial.

It is likely to call for the sale of Gatwick and Stansted and one of either Glasgow or Edinburgh airports in order to improve competition in the UK airports market and to end BAA’s monopoly of the leading London and Scottish airports.

It is not yet clear whether BAA, which owns seven UK airports, including Heathrow, will fight the demand that it sell Stansted, the third largest UK airport and the most important base for low-cost airlines in Europe, but the new owners are expected to want to alter the nature of the BAA development scheme.

Financial Times