Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Could Edinburgh Airport Be Owned By Scots?
Over the years I've flown from many of the UK's airports but the one which impresses me most is Edinburgh. It's clean, spacious and the atmosphere is more like a village rather than a sprawling city. Travellers don't require to haul their personal effects along endless walkways and it's design ensures daylight floods the building wherever possible.
And it's for sale. BAA, the airport operator which is owned by Ferrovial, the Spanish construction group, was forced by the Competition Commission to sell either Edinburgh or Glasgow and chose Edinburgh.
Rumour has it that Sir Brian Souter is drawing up plans to join a consortium of Scottish investors to purchase it. A spokesman for Sir Brian said that he would not make any formal decisions until the sales document is available in January but that if he did go ahead, it would be through Souter Investments, which does not include his stake in Stagecoach. Sir Angus Grossart and Inverleith Capital chairman Ben Thompson, are two potential partners.
Other interested parties are thought to include private equity firm 3i, Aeroports de Paris, which owns Charles de Gaulle airport and the Global Infrastructure Partners, owners of Gatwick and City partners.
However Sir Brian and his colleagues may not get a look-in as the watchdog said those already running an airport will be favoured over non-operators.
With such a restriction upon non-operators, Sir Brian's only chance would be to find an airport operator to join the consortium. Will we see Edinburgh airport owned by Scots? It's doubtful, especially since the watchdog has made the proviso public.