British airport operator BAA is to give up its long legal battle over the forced sale of Stansted Airport.

The firm, which recently lost a Court of Appeal ruling, said it would not make a further appeal and would proceed with the sale of the Essex airport.

The Competition Commission (CC) had originally ruled that BAA must sell Gatwick, Stansted and one of its Scottish airports following an inquiry into the company's airport ownership.

"We still believe the CC ruling fails to recognise that Stansted and Heathrow serve different markets," BAA said.

The BAA decision today ends a process which began as far back as March 2007 when the Office of Fair Trading referred BAA airport services to the Competition Commission. The CC ruling that BAA must sell off Gatwick, Stansted and one of either Glasgow or Edinburgh Airports was made in March 2009.

Gatwick was sold to Global Infrastructure Partnerships (GIP) in December 2009 and GIP also took over Edinburgh Airport last year.

BAA mounted a series of legal challenges to the CC ruling, with the latest one - against the sale of Stansted - ending in defeat at the High Court in July this year.

After that latest loss, BAA said it would appeal to the Supreme Court but today the Spanish-owned company signalled an end to its fight to hang on to Stansted.

BAA, which formerly ran seven UK airports, will have responsibility for just four - Heathrow, Southampton, Glasgow and Aberdeen - once the Stansted sale is concluded.

The Competition Commission has welcomed the decision by BAA to proceed with the sale of Stansted Airport.

"We believe that both passengers and airlines will benefit from the introduction of new ownership and increased competition," the Commission said in a statement.