STANSTED Airport has been sold to the Manchester Airports Group for £1.5 billion.
BAA, now known as Heathrow Airport Holdings, was forced put the airport up for sale in August after it lost its fifth appeal against the Competition Commission’s 2009 ruling that it must sell to break its monopoly of UK airports.
The sale could mean cheaper flights and more long-haul holiday destinations for the people of Essex, because the Manchester Airports Group will now be in direct competition with Heathrow and Gatwick.
Previously BAA had owned all three airports and critics argued it paid more attention to the UK’s biggest airport, Heathrow.
BAA now owns just four UK airports, Heathrow, Southampton, Aberdeen and Glasgow.
Heathrow Airport Holdings chief executive Colin Matthews said: “Stansted Airport and its people have been part of our company for a long time.
“We wish the new owners every success and are confident the airport will continue to flourish. We will continue to focus on improving Heathrow, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton airports.”
The sale is expected to be completed by the end of February.
Passenger numbers at Stansted, which has 10,000 employees, have plunged from 24 million in 2007 to around 18 million now.
It handles around 131,000 flights a year with 14 airlines serving more than 150 destinations in 32 countries.
Manchester Airports Group (MAG) owns and operates Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports.