The long-running saga over the future ownership of Stansted has ended with the sale of the airport to the Manchester Airport Group for £1.5 billion.
The sale ends the several years of uncertainty which has hung over the Essex airport since a ruling by the Competition Commission in 2009, decreeing it should be sold to enhance competition in the London area. Heathrow Airport Holdings – formerly BAA – agreed to the sale in August 2012, ending the legal dispute and completing the ruling that had already seen the sale of Gatwick and Edinburgh Airports to GIP.
Three final bids for Stansted were submitted last week, with the two unsuccessful proposals coming from Macquarie, and infrastructure fun, and Malaysia Airports. The successful bid for the airport came from Manchester Airports Group (MAG) and will see their Australian partner, Industry Funds Management, become a strategic investor, owning 35.5 per cent of the company. MAG will be adding Stansted to their other UK airports which include Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth; IFM have stakes in nine airports across Australia.
Following the deal, Heathrow Airport Holdings’ chief executive, Colin Matthews wished the new owners “every success” adding: “Stansted airport and its people have been part of our company for a long time. It has been named by passengers as ‘the world’s best airport for low-cost airlines’ for two consecutive years at the Skytrax World Airport Awards, and we are proud of its achievements.”
Stansted’s new owners said that it would be “business as usual” whilst the deal was completed. Talking about the company’s plans for the airport MAG chief executive, Charlie Cornish, said that they would aim to restore Stansted to its peak traffic levels of 2007 within the next ten years, adding that the airport shows potential for “significant volume growth over the short, medium and long term”.
The deal is expected to be completed by the end of February and has been welcomed by airlines using the airport.