UK airports operator BAA has opted to sell Edinburgh airport, after competition authorities this summer ordered the company to dispose of one of its two Scottish hubs.

The UK Competition Commission in July ordered BAA to sell either Edinburgh or Glasgow airport, as well as London Stansted.

Although it has agreed to sell Edinburgh airport, BAA is continuing to contest the ruling forcing it sell Stansted.

BAA expects to formally approach the market about the sale of Edinburgh in the New Year with a view to agreeing a sale by the summer.

"Choosing which airport to sell has been a difficult decision," explained BAA chief executive Colin Matthews. "Edinburgh airport has shown itself to be a strong and resilient asset throughout the economic downturn. Passenger numbers at Edinburgh have grown by more than 6% over the past year and in an uncertain market we expect it to be an attractive asset to prospective buyers."

Passenger numbers at Edinburgh remained steady during the economic crisis at around 9 million - although they dropped to 8.6 million last year as one-off ash cloud and snow disruption hit UK services.

In contrast Glasgow airport handled just 6.6 million passengers in 2010, a fall of more than 2 million since 2007.

"Glasgow airport has great opportunities for future growth and development and we think BAA is well-placed to build on its recent success," said Matthews. "Both airports are of national importance and have a bright future."

Alongside Edinburgh and Glasgow, BAA also operates another Scottish airport, Aberdeen, as well London Heathrow, Stansted and Southampton. BAA sold London Gatwick in 2009 as part of the competition ruling.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news