28 OCTOBER 2013
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The sale of the Luton Airport operation (see BTN 5 August) is progressing, but perhaps not at the speed first anticipated.
BTN has learnt that whilst the freeholder, Luton Borough Council, and the EU Commission have approved its disposal by Abertis (which has already sold both Belfast International and Cardiff airports), endorsement at the Spanish end has still to be finalised. This could be due to the ‘manuva’ effect, or something more serious with the prospective new operator Aena, the Spanish airport company, which already owns 10% of Luton, itself under pressure. Aena is due to be privatised but the timetable is slipping with Madrid’s Barajas losing passengers as Iberia downsizes and the Spanish economy continues to suffer. Aena plans to hold 51% of Luton Airport and AXA Private Equity the balance.
Luton Airport has requested planning approval for a major terminal expansion and modernisation and the go-ahead is expected in November. In the meantime traffic figures are running very slightly ahead of last year’s 9.6m, making it the fifth largest UK airport after Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Stansted. www.london-luton.co.uk
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