The powerful aviation body that decides which airlines get London's valuable landing slots is close to appointing a new chairman to pilot international expansion.
Airport Co-ordination Limited (ACL), a not-for-profit group owned by nine airlines including BA, easyJet and Virgin Atlantic, is understood to have identified a candidate with strong corporate governance skills. Headhunter Warren Partners began approaching prospective candidates to succeed Hugh Boulter late last year and an announcement could be made as early as this week.
ACL is growing internationally, dishing out slots at airports in Auckland, Dubai and Toronto, and co-ordinating around 2.8 million flights worldwide. In the UK, ACL works with 23 airports, which also include Edinburgh and Bournemouth.
ACL's managing director Chris Bosworth said: "Our independent chairman is retiring in July. He has been with us for coming up to 10 years."
It is understood ACL, which was set up 20 years ago, wants the new chairman to work closely with Mr Bosworth to win more work abroad.
The potential value of airport slots was illustrated last year by a BA financing package. It tried to raise £454m in bonds and equity loans secured against pairs of Heathrow take-off and arrival slots.