An international bidding war is expected to be triggered by the sale of the government’s stake in the UK’s air traffic control network.

Last week’s Autumn Statement included plans to dispose of the state’s 49% stake in National Air Traffic Services (Nats).

The service oversees air traffic control at 14 UK airports, over the UK and eastern parts of the Atlantic.

Chancellor George Osborne said last week that he wanted to sell Nats as part of a package of disposals to raise £5 billion.

The stake in Nats could sell for £500 million, the Sunday Telegraph reported, quoting industry sources, as the stock of quality infrastructure assets which produce reliable long-term returns runs down.

Pension fund USS paid £143 million of a 21% stake in 2013.

A Department for Transport spokesman said no decision had yet been made on the value of Nats or whether the government would retain control through a golden share.