A ruling on BAA’s final appeal against the enforced disposal of Stansted on competition grounds is expected tomorrow (Friday).

The airports operator will be forced to sell the airport if it loses a three year legal battle against the Competition Commission’s 2009 ruling that Stansted should be offloaded.

The Court of Appeal is to make its ruling at a time when Stansted is losing passengers, with a 4/5% drop to 8.2 million in the half year to June.

But BAA chief executive Colin Matthews argued that when UK consumer confidence picks up, Stansted “will be growing faster than any other airport” when UK consumer confidence picks up.

“Stansted is very dependent on UK consumer confidence and that is not high at the moment,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

The sale of Stansted during the current climate would have a “damaging impact” for shareholders, Matthews said.

“Those are the same shareholders by the way who are currently investing £100m a year in Heathrow,” he said. “You can’t think why the country as a whole would wish to discourage inbound flows of equity because we depend on that to fund infrastructure.

“I think the country should be welcoming foreign capital and a forced sale of Stansted is damaging the interest of shareholders.”