Manchester Airports buys Stansted for £1.5bn

Manchester Airports Group, the owners of the Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports in the UK, has agreed to buy Stansted Airport for £1.5bn.

The UK’s fourth busiest airport by passenger numbers is being sold by Heathrow Airport Holdings, formerly BAA, following the organisation’s decision not to contest an order from competition regulators for it to sell Stansted. Three of the UK’s largest airports, Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, were all originally owned by BAA, but following pressure from the Competition Commission, BAA will now only retain Heathrow and a few smaller airports, including Glasgow.

The leading shareholders in Manchester Airports Group are Greater Manchester’s 10 councils. Charlie Cornish, Manchester Airlines Group chief executive, said, ‘We are delighted to be successful in our bid for Stansted Airport, the London airport for Europe. The transaction represents a significant milestone in the achievement of our previously stated strategy of adding a quality airport to the group and delivering long-term value to our shareholders.’

Heathrow Airport’s chief executive, Colin Matthews, said, ‘Stansted Airport and its people have been part of our company for a long time. We wish the new owners every success and are confident the airport will continue to flourish. We will continue to focus on improving Heathrow, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton airports.’

MAG serves around 24 million passengers and handles 500,000 tons of airfreight every year across its existing airport properties, contributing £3.2bn to the UK economy and supporting in excess of 130,000 jobs.

The sale is expected to close by the beginning of March this year.