Low-cost carrier Ryanair in talks about taking a stake in Stansted airport


Tom Bawden
Tuesday 21 August 2012 21:47

Ryanair, the low cost carrier, said it was interested in buying a 25 per cent stake in London Stansted airport, which is up for sale for an estimated £1bn.

The company, which is Stansted's biggest customer, operating 41 planes from the airport, indicated its interest after its current owner, BAA, ended a protracted legal battle to prevent its sale, which had been ordered by the Competition Commission in 2009.

It admitted in a Stock Exchange announcement yesterday that it has held discussions "with a number of parties who are interested in bidding for Stansted".

The airline added: "In some of these discussions Ryanair has confirmed that it is willing (subject to a competitive cost offer) to deliver traffic growth at Stansted over a five-year period and has been asked to consider acquiring a minority stake (of less than 25 per cent) should a successful consortium consider it necessary or valuable to commit Ryanair to Stansted airport as a minority equity investor."

Ryanair first revealed its interest in Stansted airport in April, when the airlines chief financial officer, Howard Millar, said "if a consortium wants us in as a shareholder we would consider it."

Yesterday, a Ryanair spokesman said: "We are still interested in taking a stake in the airport. Our long-term strategy for Stansted offers potential for growth. The sale of Stansted will lead to more competition [and] improved passenger numbers."

The no-frills airline welcomed the decision to sell Stansted by BAA, with whom it has had a number of disputes over the years, mainly revolving around potential charges at London's third largest airport. An attempt in the mid-1990s to build a second runway at Stansted was described by Ryanair as "gold-plated folly" that risked turning Stansted into a white elephant.

Although Stansted has seen passenger numbers fall in recent years – which Ryanair's combative chief executive Michael O'Leary blames on rising airport charges – Ryanair has come round to the idea of expansion there, now seeing it as the obvious place to accommodate a new runway in the South-east.

Potential bidders for Stansted include Manchester Airports Group, pension funds and infrastructure funds.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in