Chinese state to fund new London airport

China is set to add another British asset to its portfolio, as London mayor, Boris Johnson, is preparing to approach China and South Korea for state funds to build the Isle of Grain airport in north Kent.

The Mayor’s advisers have reportedly held talks with Chinese sovereign investment fund, China Investment Corporation (CIC), and officials in Seoul to fund the project. Other institutional investors, including City-based pension funds and infrastructure firms, have also said that they would consider funding the Isle of Grain scheme, which has been called the Thames Hub Airport. CIC is already a minority shareholder in Heathrow Airport Holdings.

According to architect company, Foster+Partners, the project is estimated to cost £24bn.

Last week, Johnson discarded the plan for ‘Boris Island’ airport and endorsed the option of building a new airport on the Isle of Grain. He also proposed the closure of Heathrow, which he said the government should buy for £15bn and turn into a town housing 250,000 people.

In addition to the Isle of Grain project, the Mayor also commissioned feasibility studies on a new artificial island in the Thames Estuary and on an expansion of Stansted. All of the options would require four runways, he said.

‘Ambitious cities all over the world are already stealing a march on us and putting themselves in a position to eat London’s breakfast, lunch and dinner by constructing mega-airports that plug them directly into the global supply chains that we need to be part of,’ he said last week.

The report comes as China’s sovereign wealth funds bought $4.7bn worth of British assets last year. Chinese institutions are also being approached for several other new UK projects, including a new ‘super-sewer’ under London and the next generation of nuclear power stations.