The trade is backing the Competition Commission’s report claiming BAA’s monopoly of the UK’s airports could be harming UK consumers.

ABTA head of policy and communications David Marshall said the association is already planning to make representations to the Competition Commission before it publishes its final findings in August.

He added: “ABTA welcomes the Competition Commission’s interim report into the common ownership of BAA’s seven airports in the UK.

“ABTA has previously made representations to the Government that there should be adequate airport capacity, particularly in the south east of England, and today’s report suggests that common ownership could be one of the main obstacles to increased capacity.

“ABTA also endorses the Competition Commission’s concerns that there appears to be a lack of responsiveness to the differing needs of airline customers and passengers, again this is an issue which ABTA has raised with Government.”

Flybe commercial officer Mike Rutter said having flown 75,000 flights from BAA airports last year alone the airline was in a good position to comment on any problems and urged the airport operator to sell off Gatwick, Southampton and Glasgow airports.

He added: “We have been saying for years that the BAA monopoly of airports in South East England and the Scottish lowlands is bad for the consumer and at last, the Competition Commission have come to the same conclusion.

“Rather than wait for the inevitable forced sell-off, we are today calling for Ferrovial to read the writing on the wall and start to divest itself of at least three airports in order to improve customer focus, allow for investment and bring real competition to aviation in the UK.”

Bmi chief executive Nigel Turner also backed the report, adding: “Only with separate airport ownership can the UK guarantee a healthy and competitive aviation industry to serve the wider consumer interest.”