A majority stake in Gatwick Airport is to be sold to French operator Vinci Airports in a £2.9 billion deal.
The French firm will buy 50.01 per cent of the airport, the UK’s second busiest, while the other 49.99 per cent will be retained by current Gatwick owners Global Infrastructure Partners.
Gatwick chairman Sir David Higgins today described the move as ‘a vote of confidence in Gatwick and its future potential.’
Announcement of the sale comes just days after mass disruption was caused at Gatwick by reports of illegal drones invading the airport’s airspace. The airport came to a complete standstill and thousands of people had their travel plans cancelled.
Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said the new deal with Vinci Airports would not mean any changes to the immediate running of Gatwick. He said he expected the transaction to be completed by the middle of next year.
“This is good news for the airport as it will mean both continuity but also further investment for passengers over the coming years to improve our services further. We currently fly to over 220 destinations around the world and are ambitious to do even more in the years ahead.”
He added: “While today’s announcement marks an exciting moment in Gatwick’s future, my team and I remain focussed on doing everything we can to help ensure that travel runs as smoothly as possible for everyone over the rest of the festive period.”
Gatwick operates flights to more than 228 destinations in 74 countries for 46 million passengers a year. It generates around 85,000 jobs, with 24,000 of them at the airport itself.
In a draft masterplan revealed in October, Gatwick bosses set out proposals for growth including the routine use of the airport’s current stand-by runway as a second runway, along with retention of land to the south of the airport as a possible future third runway.
A public consultation over the masterplan runs until January 10.