CityJet and Flybe join BA in threat to pull out of City airport if charges are raised

The airport was put up for sale last August and is understood to have attracted attention from five investors

Joanna Bourke
Wednesday 17 February 2016 01:38
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London City Airport was put up for sale last August
London City Airport was put up for sale last August

CityJet and Flybe have joined British Airways in threatening to pull out of City airport, if new owners raise airport charges.

The airport has been owned by the private equity firm Global Infrastructure Partners since 2006, but was put up for sale last August and is understood to have attracted attention from five investors. The deadline for final bids is this Friday. But the airlines, which together account for 70 per cent of City airport’s passengers, are worried that a price tag of £2bn will mean any new buyer hikes landing charges in an attempt to recover some of the purchase cost. “This brings into question the long-term sustainability of airline operations at London City airport,” said Pat Byrne, executive chairman of CityJet.

The asking price, dubbed “foolish” by Willie Walsh, the boss of BA’s parent International Airlines Group, represents a multiple of 44 times London City’s underlying earnings in 2014.

The Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, who owns Superdrug and mobile group Three, as well as a consortium including the Kuwait Investment Authority, Borealis, Hermes and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, are understood to be among suitors for the airport.

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