Edinburgh Airport expected ‘to be put up for sale by Christmas’

Edinburgh Airport said to be valued at more than £2 billion
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Aviation sources have said that Edinburgh Airport is expected to be put up for sale “before Christmas”.

Strengthening rumours about the expected move by owners Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) came as the Reuters news agency reported on Friday the company was working on a sale of its majority stake.

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Scotland’s busiest airport could be valued at more than £2.15 billion (€2.5bn) and sold as early as next year, according to unnamed sources quoted by Reuters.

Edinburgh Airport is Scotland's busiest airport. Photo by Andrew Milligan/ PA.Edinburgh Airport is Scotland's busiest airport. Photo by Andrew Milligan/ PA.
Edinburgh Airport is Scotland's busiest airport. Photo by Andrew Milligan/ PA.

New York-based fund managers GIP bought the airport in 2012 for £807 million in an auction forced on owner BAA, which also owned Glasgow Airport, by the Competition Commission. It sold a 50 per cent stake in Gatwick, Britain’s second busiest airport after Heathrow, four years ago.

The latest speculation follows reports in October last year of a possible £3bn sale of Edinburgh.

The aviation source told our sister paper The Scotsman: “We keep hearing rumours that the sale process is going to get underway imminently. As I understand it, the formal process will be starting before Christmas.

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"The rumours are so strong and grounded. There is no smoke without fire. It seems to be the worst kept secret in the industry.”

Sources also told Reuters the owners of AGS Airports, which runs Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports, may also sell. It follows Ferrovial, one of the owners, selling its 25 per cent stake in Heathrow Airport as the largest shareholder in a £2.37bn deal on Wednesday.

The company and Australian partners Macquarie bought what became AGS from its ownership by Heathrow in 2014 for more then £1bn.

The potential Edinburgh Airport sale comes after passenger numbers rebounded to near pre-Covid levels in the first half of this year. In an update published in September, the airport reported a “continued strong recovery” from the pandemic with 6.6 million passengers in the six months to the end of June – 93 per cent of 2019 levels. It reported revenue up 15 per cent on the same period in 2019 to £115m.

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The airport, which employs some 750 staff with a further 7,000 working for other companies on the site, said: “The recovery has been led by international markets with a strong rebound in both outbound and inbound travel.”

This has included Ryanair and Easyjet, the airport’s biggest airlines, basing more aircraft there with new routes, while Scotland’s only flights to China resumed this summer.

Other new routes include WestJet flying to Calgary in Canada, Delta resuming Atlanta flights and JetBlue launching New York flights next May, joining two other airlines on the route.

Postponed Edinburgh Airport runway resurfacing 'has increased risk of emergency repairs’ because of ‘significant patching’

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The airport said it was spending £40m on improvements this year, including new security scanners, which will relax the 100mL hand baggage liquids limit from next June, in line with the UK Government deadline.

However, the airport has been plagued by chronic baggage problems this year caused by a shortage of staff at airline handling agents Swissport and Menzies Aviation and luggage delays at hub airports elsewhere.

GIP declined to comment, but AGS dismissed the reports as “simply speculation”.