Ryanair withdraws from Stansted airport sale process

Passengers board a Ryanair plane parked at Girona airport, September 20, 2012. REUTERS/Albert Gea

LONDON (Reuters) - Ryanair RYA.I said it would not be taking part in the sale of London's Stansted airport after the airport's owner, BAA, excluded the budget airline from the process.

Stansted, Britain's fourth-busiest airport, was put on the block by Ferrovial-owned FER.MC BAA in August after it was forced to sell off assets by the country's competition regulator.

Ryanair had previously stated that it had held talks with potential bidders for Stansted after it was asked to consider acquiring a minority stake as part of a consortium.

But Ferrovial had now excluded Ryanair from the process, the airline said on Tuesday, without citing any reasons.

“Since Ryanair does not wish to prejudice other potential investors in Stansted, it has written to all investors/consortia it has held discussions with to advise them that Ryanair will not participate in the sale process or seek a minority stake,” it said in a statement.

BAA was not immediately available to comment.

Around 70 percent of Stansted’s traffic - 18 million passengers last year - was with Ryanair, the airline said.

The battle for the airport - which analysts estimated in August could fetch up to $2 billion (1 billion pounds) - is expected to draw Manchester Airports Group, U.S. banks, pension funds and Asian operators.

Reporting by Rosalba O’Brien; Editing by Paul Sandle