GIP to buy Edinburgh airport

 

Edinburgh Airport is to be bought by the group that runs Gatwick and London City airports, it was announced today.

Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) will pay £807.2 million to take over Edinburgh from current operator BAA which was forced to sell off the Scottish airport by the Competition Commission.

GIP said it hoped to complete the deal by the end of May.

GIP is an independent infrastructure fund manager.

Adebayo Ogunlesi, chairman and managing partner of GIP, said: "Edinburgh Airport is a high-quality infrastructure asset. Its acquisition is a landmark deal for GIP.

"We see significant opportunity to apply our tested and successful operational expertise and our knowledge of the global airports sector to develop and enhance the performance of Edinburgh Airport in years to come."

Michael McGhee, the GIP partner leading the acquisition, added: "We plan to work closely with the airlines to improve customer service and quality in a similar fashion to the strategy we are successfully executing at our existing UK airports, London Gatwick and London City.

"We expect to continue to develop Edinburgh into an attractive and efficient capital city gateway by improving the experience of our passengers, business and leisure alike."

GIP took over London City in 2006 and then bought Gatwick from BAA for £1.51 billion in 2009.

Concerned at BAA's monopoly position regarding its ownership of UK airports, the Competition Commission ruled that BAA must sell Gatwick and Stansted and one of either Glasgow or Edinburgh Airports.

BAA is still disputing the Stansted ruling, having opted to keep Glasgow and sell Edinburgh.

Three years go, BAA ran as many as seven UK airports. But following the Edinburgh acquisition, and with Stansted expected eventually to be relinquished, the Spanish-owned company will operate only four - Heathrow, Southampton, Aberdeen and Glasgow.

BAA chief executive Colin Matthews said: "Edinburgh Airport and its team have been part of BAA for a long time and we are proud of its achievements.

"We wish the new owners every success and are confident the airport will continue to flourish.

"BAA will continue to focus on improving passengers' journeys at Heathrow and its other airports."

Mark Lazarowicz, Labour MP for Edinburgh North and Leith, said the takeover could result in "more vigorous competition between Edinburgh and Glasgow airports, with potentially significant benefits to passengers".

But he added: "The fact that GIP already owns Gatwick and London City airports must not lead to any downgrading of services to other London airports.

"Furthermore, as with any large takeover, employees will have concerns about their future under a new employer.

"I hope that GIP will make clear their intentions about retention of staff as soon as possible and will reject any job losses or redundancies."

He also urged the airport's new owners to work with the UK Border Agency to "cut some of the delays which I know can affect travellers arriving on some international flights at theairport".

Scottish Conservative finance spokesman and Lothians MSP Gavin Brown said the deal was "the start of a new chapter in Edinburgh airport's history".

He said: "The airport is vital to the economy of the city and beyond, and can make a significant impact on business and tourism in Scotland.

"I hope that the new owners will place passengers at the heart of their plans and do all they can to create a fantastic passenger experience."

Mark Lazarowicz, Labour MP for Edinburgh North and Leith, said the takeover could result in "more vigorous competition between Edinburgh and Glasgow airports, with potentially significant benefits to passengers".

But he added: "The fact that GIP already owns Gatwick and London City airports must not lead to any downgrading of services to other London airports.

"Furthermore, as with any large takeover, employees will have concerns about their future under a new employer.

"I hope that GIP will make clear their intentions about retention of staff as soon as possible and will reject any job losses or redundancies."

He also urged the airport's new owners to work with the UK Border Agency to "cut some of the delays which I know can affect travellers arriving on some international flights at theairport".

Scottish Conservative finance spokesman and Lothians MSP Gavin Brown said the deal was "the start of a new chapter in Edinburgh airport's history".

He said: "The airport is vital to the economy of the city and beyond, and can make a significant impact on business and tourism in Scotland.

"I hope that the new owners will place passengers at the heart of their plans and do all they can to create a fantastic passenger experience."

Scottish transport minister Keith Brown said: "The Scottish Government welcome the end of the uncertainty that has hung over BAA's Scottish airports since 2008.

"The reported sale price is an illustration of the significance of Edinburgh Airport as a prime transport asset in Scotland and of Global Infrastructure Partners' determination to secure it."

Mr Brown said that Scottish ministers were "committed to boosting direct flights from Scotland and maximising our international connections".

He added: "We welcome GIP to the Scottish aviation scene and look forward to engaging with them over the next few days to discuss their vision for Edinburgh Airport, how they will contribute to the Scottish Government's sustainable economic growth ambitions and what opportunities they wish to bring to Edinburgh Airport."

PA

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