THE new owner of Edinburgh Airport has announced the return of former boss Gordon Dewar to preside over a “new era of competition and growth”.
Global Infrastructure Partners formally takes charge of the airport today following its £807.2 million acquisition from BAA, with the appointment of Mr Dewar as CEO its first act as proprietor.
Mr Dewar, who quit as managing director in 2010 to become Bahrain Airport’s chief executive, oversaw a period of growth at Edinburgh when the fortunes of other airports declined amid difficult economic conditions.
He oversaw the installation of a £40m departure lounge and security hall – the biggest single project in the airport’s history – which created around 150 new jobs.
But he faced a public backlash after introducing a £1 drop-off charge, dubbed the “kiss and fly tax”, and branded “pretty mean-spirited” by Lothians MSP Gavin Brown.
Mr Dewar’s time in Bahrain was marred by tragedy when his 17-year-old daughter Olivia was knocked down in December 2010 and died from her injuries.
Current managing director Jim O’Sullivan has agreed to remain in the hotseat until Mr Dewar arrives this summer.
Speaking about his return, Mr Dewar said: “Edinburgh is my home city, and I am excited to be returning to one of the most important jobs in the Capital.
“The challenge of leading the airport and the team into a new era of competition and growth is an irresistible one, and very different to the role I once played in BAA.
“Our decisions will only be influenced by what is good for Edinburgh Airport, and the city and country we serve.”
Among his first tasks will be to hammer out a deal with no-frills airline Ryanair, which is threatening to withdraw more routes from the airport amid a dispute over landing charges.
The Irish carrier has already cut 35 routes from the Capital.
Michael McGhee, the GIP partner who led the acquisition of Edinburgh Airport, said: “Gordon is an outstanding airport executive. We are pleased to have secured his return.
“It is important to acknowledge the role played by Jim O’Sullivan, who has steered his team through the sale process with the highest levels of professionalism and focus. He will leave Edinburgh Airport in good shape, and with our best wishes.”
Sir John Elvidge, who becomes chairman of Edinburgh Airport today, said: “We don’t expect to change overnight, but we have an excellent, supportive owner and a world-class management team; each of us is determined to raise Scotland’s profile around the world, connect Edinburgh with more destinations, and provide passengers with a great experience and more choice. The hard work starts today.”
Laurie Price, director of aviation strategy at consultant Mott MacDonald, said the return of Mr Dewar was a statement of intent from GIP.
“They are putting their man in to give the resonance of a new regime,” he said.
“They are actually showing that they are not just following on from the BAA. It says ‘we are leading from the front, from the top and we are actually going to give BAA a run for their money’. “Gordon Dewar has a good reputation and he knows his business so I would hope it is a successful appointment.”