Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Airport Sale Leaves UK's Premier Airport Standing Alone

Three Regional Hubs Sold Off to Overseas Interests
Shipping News Feature

UK – Heathrow Airport Holdings has agreed to sell its 100% interest in Aberdeen International Airport, Glasgow Airport and Southampton International Airport, to a consortium formed by Spanish infrastructure company Ferrovial, already the largest single shareholder in Heathrow, and Australian financial services group Macquarie, for £1,048 million in cash and assumed debt, payable in full at closing, subject to EU merger regulation clearance. The three airports were the last of the airports formerly owned by BAA following the regulators insistence that the company sold off Stansted, Gatwick and Edinburgh.

With the sale expected to close no later than January 2015, the three airports will continue to be managed locally to meet the needs of their local communities, with the added benefit of being supported by the joint ownership of Ferrovial and Macquarie, which recently disposed of its shares in Bristol Airport. Sir Peter Mason, Chairman of Thames Water will be appointed as Chair of the group on completion.

This sale comes after an announcement last month that the controversial ‘Boris Island’ project was not on the UK Government's shortlist to increase national airport capacity, but the proposals going forward centre heavily on future developments at Heathrow. John Holland-Kaye, Chief Executive of Heathrow, said:

“Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports and their people have been part of our company for a long time. They are great airports and we are proud of their achievements. We wish the new owners and our airport colleagues every success and are confident the airports will continue to flourish. This sale enables us to focus on improving Heathrow for passengers and winning support for Heathrow expansion. Heathrow is the UK’s only hub airport, connecting the whole of the UK to the world and bringing economic benefits locally and nationally."

Following the sale of Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton, Heathrow Airport Holdings will operate one airport: Heathrow. In 2013, the three airports handled a total of 19,661 tonnes of cargo, of which Southampton handled 133 tonnes, Glasgow 12,132 tonnes, and Aberdeen 7,395 tonnes. The thee have distinctly different profiles with Southampton relatively small and local whilst Glasgow is Scotland’s major long haul airport and Aberdeen holds a particular niche as the world’s busiest heliport servicing the energy recovery projects in the North Sea.

Photo: Aberdeen Heliport