Stansted airport is to be sold off after its owner BAA gave up on its long legal battle today.
The Spanish company, which recently lost a Court of Appeal ruling over the Essex airport, said it would not make a further appeal and accepts it has to sell it. The Competition Commission (CC) ruled that BAA must dispose of Gatwick, Stansted and one of its Scottish airports following an inquiry into the company’s airport ownership.
Gatwick was sold to Global Infrastructure Partnerships (GIP) in December 2009 and GIP also took over Edinburgh Airport last year.But then BAA mounted a series of legal challenges to the CC ruling, with the latest one – against the sale of Stansted – ending in defeat at the High Court in July this year.
After that latest loss, BAA said it would appeal to the Supreme Court but today the Spanish-owned company signalled an end to its fight to hang on to Stansted.
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Edinburgh Airport is not just Scotland’s busiest airport – it is also officially the best airport in Europe.
Edinburgh Airport was named “Best European airport: 5m – 10m passengers” at the eighth Annual Airports Council International awards in Madrid. The airport, which changed hands this month in a £807.2 million deal, was given the award for its focus on its customer base and the responses to the feedback that they provide.
Edinburgh held off competition from Cologne, Birmingham, Luton, Nice, Marseille and Milan to hold on to the title.
Chief executive Jim O’Sullivan, said: “This is an outstanding achievement. To win the prestigious award for the second consecutive year is impressive enough, but to do so whilst having the challenge of being sold is truly amazing.
“The team at Edinburgh airport is dedicated, focused and deserving of this accolade. We will keep working hard to deliver what our passengers want – great service and a diverse range of routes. That’s what’s at the core of this and last year’s success.”
Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) took ownership of the capital airport on June 1 after buying it from BAA in an arrangement announced in April. The airport is also busy because of the construction work taking place there at the moment. Edinburgh’s new tramline terminates at the airport and visitors to the airport will notice the end of the line being installed just a few yards from the terminal building.
BAA was forced to sell it after the Competition Commission ruled that it must sell either Glasgow or Edinburgh airport.
GIP is an independent infrastructure fund manager. It took over London City in 2006 and then bought Gatwick from BAA for £1.51 billion in 2009.
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Edinburgh Airport has been sold to Global Infrastructure Partnership (GIP) , the owner of Gatwick and London City airports for over £800m. Edinburgh Airport was put on the market by its owner BAA last October, after the Competition Commission ruled that it had to sell either Edinburgh or Glasgow.
The winning price, which is understood to be close to £800m, is considerably more than had been expected.
Three years ago, Spanish-owned BAA sold Gatwick Airport to GIP, under the same regulatory requirement to break up assets that had previously been state-owned.
It is thought that GIP intends to improve the speed at which passengers move through the airport at check-in, security and baggage handling, and to link the Scottish capital with new routes.
Simon Calder, travel editor at The Independent, said: “What they have done is remarkable things.
“They’ve greatly improved the passenger experience so that people are tending to choose the airport ahead of others and secondly they are attracting airlines.”
He added: “It’s now going to get very, very interesting and the beneficiaries will be the Scottish travelling public.”
Its investment pattern is to sell the asset on after about seven years.
The Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association welcomed the news and said that GIP had improved the experience for passengers at Gatwick since it took over the airport three years ago and expected the same at Edinburgh.
Edinburgh Airport is introducing electronic security gates (e-gates) that are designed to speed-up the immigration process.
It will be the first installation of e-gates at a Scottish airport. Five e-gates will be installed in the next two weeks; they will be available to UK and EU travellers with an e-Passport.
Details from an electronic chip contained in the e-Passport will be compared with an image of the passenger’s face taken at the e-gate, replacing the traditional manual check by UK Border Agency officials.
The airport handled 9.3 million passengers in 2011 and the new e-gates will help ease congestion at peak times.
Meanwhile, two additional X-ray machines will be installed in the hand-baggage search area in May, increasing the total to 12. A new passenger and hand-baggage security check area was opened as part of a major terminal extension in 2010.
Edinburgh Airport is Scotland’s busiest airport and its sale has sparked interest across the globe . The government decided that it had to be sold by its current owners. There are three bidders at the moment – Global Infrastructure Partners, JP Morgan Asset Management, and a consortium of 3i, M&G Infracapital and the Universities Superannuation Scheme. Offers have to be lodged in April, and a buyer is expected to be selected in the early summer. All bidders will be able to carry out due diligence on the airport before lodging their offers. It is believed that a fourth bidder , the Carlyle Group, the US private equity company, have pulled out of the £600 million bid battle for Edinburgh airport. Carlyle’s exit has surprised many in the industry who considered it a strong candidate, given the line-up of partners it pulled together, including the Edinburgh-based investment bank Noble Grossart, run by Sir Angus Grossart. The company was also believed to have attracted interest in joining a consortium from a number of other Scottish business leaders. But it is also understood that Sir Brian Souter, the founder of transport group Stagecoach, did not have talks with Carlyle, despite speculation that he was involved. He has since declared that he is not taking part at this stage. Prestwick Airport is going to be transferred to a new owner as its current New Zealand-based owner have called it an under-performing asset. Infrastructure investment company Infratil said it will also look for a buyer for Manston Airport in Kent. Prestwick, which is budget airline Ryanair’s Scottish base, has a terminal capacity of three million and is situated in Ayrshire, about 45 minutes from Glasgow. Iain Cochrane, chief executive of Glasgow Prestwick airport, said: “At the Infratil Investor Day today in New Zealand, it was announced that Infratil intends to sell both Glasgow Prestwick and Manston airports. “This decision comes from a re-focusing of Infratil’s investment profile and has been under consideration for some time. It’s consistent with Infratil chief executive Marco Bogoievski’s public comments over recent months. “Prestwick is a great airport with a great team and a great future. I believe this is an excellent opportunity for us to attract new investment into the airport to provide the stimulus for future growth. “Today, it’s business as usual as the busy summer season approaches and we’re totally focused on looking after our customers.”