Edinburgh Airport sale: Majority stake sold to French-based VINCI Airports in £1.27bn deal

Global Infrastructure Partners’ decision to retain 49% interest hailed as “big validation in airport’s progress”

A French company has bought a majority stake in Edinburgh Airport in what has been branded a “new, exciting chapter” for Scotland’s busiest air gateway.

Following months of speculation over a sale, VINCI Airports has acquired a 50.01 per cent stake in the airport from co-owner Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) in a deal worth £1.27 billion.

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The remaining 49.99 per cent interest in the airport will continue to be managed by GIP in what is seen as a “big validation of the airport’s progress”.

A majority stake in Edinburgh Airport has been soldA majority stake in Edinburgh Airport has been sold
A majority stake in Edinburgh Airport has been sold

As part of the deal, both firms have committed to a long-term strategic partnership for the airport’s future development, billed as similar to the one established in 2019 at Gatwick Airport when GIP sold VINCI its 50 per cent stake in Britain’s second busiest airport.

Significantly, both Edinburgh Airport’s chairman Sir John Elvidge and chief executive Gordon Dewar will remain in their existing roles, which suggests there will be no major change of direction.

Passengers are not expected to see any significant changes after the deal has been concluded in about two months’ time. However, an industry source said there were likely to be improvements to the terminal building, whose state has come under criticism from some passengers.

They said: “It is a job of continuous improvement. I think you will see investment in the fabric of the place. There will be sustained investment in facilities and customer service, but there won’t be changes in day-to-day operations.”

GIP’s move is seen as linked to the investment cycle of its funds, with the retention of half its stake showing the company will retain links with the airport “in a meaningful way”, the source said.

"It has genuine affection for the airport, which has a very sound investment case,” they said.

An airport source said: “We see it as a vote of confidence in us and our plans – a big validation of our progress.”

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Scottish Conservatives transport spokesperson Graham Simpson said: “This is a clear vote of confidence in a very successful Scottish airport. I hope the investment leads to even greater improvements in the service offered to passengers going through Edinburgh.”

Passenger numbers at the airport this year are expected to top 2019’s record 14.4 million. It has 155 destinations flown by 35 airlines, led by Ryanair and EasyJet.

However, Mr Dewar has already warned the hub is likely to face another difficult summer from baggage disruption, which is the responsibility of handling agents employed by airlines, not the airport.

It follows two years of problems because of staff shortages and delays to Edinburgh-bound baggage from hub airports such as Heathrow, where passengers switch between flights.

Mr Dewar said in February: “I have very low confidence levels that we are going to see that fixed this year.” In a reference to the airport stepping in to speed up returning delayed luggage to passengers once it had reached Edinburgh, Mr Dewar had added: “We’re geared up for a similar poor performance as last year, but the repatriation part of it will be a lot, lot better.”

The airport has already signalled it was increasing spending to cope with this year’s expected continuing passenger growth, which will be followed by expansion of the departure lounge and then a major change to its layout. This follows a hiatus during the Covid pandemic when passenger numbers plummeted amid wide-ranging foreign travel restrictions.

Mr Dewar has said: "We are also back into the growth agenda. We are now seeing a significant ramp up around thinking how we are going to increase terminal capacity – everything we need to keep growing.”

UK departures will be moved to gates one to three at the west end of the departure lounge in three to four years’ time to create a “much-expanded” area for international flights. All the food and drink outlets are being overhauled, with some new additions in time for the summer peak in July.

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The change in ownership control comes 12 years after GIP bought the airport from BAA, which also owned Glasgow Airport, for £807m in an auction forced by the Competition Commission.

New York-based GIP’s chairman and chief executive Bayo Ogunlesi said the focus would remain on the “long-term growth, modernisation and sustainability of the airport and on continuing to improve passenger service”.

VINCI Airports was set up in Chile in 2015, and runs 65 airports in 12 countries, including France, Portugal, Brazil, the United States, Cambodia and Japan.

Mr Dewar said: “We welcome and look forward to working with VINCI Airports and GIP, two of the world’s most respected airport investors and operators. The leadership team, which remains in place, is wholly committed to working with our investors to improve customer service, accelerate our decarbonisation plans and strengthen Scotland’s connectivity with the world, which ultimately drives the country’s international competitiveness and prosperity.

“I should thank the whole team at Edinburgh Airport for the contribution they have made to our success over the last 12 years since GIP acquired the airport and look forward to working with them to write a new, exciting chapter in the airport’s story.”

The airport, which is the UK’s sixth busiest, said it supported 28,000 jobs in Scotland and contributed £1.4 billion a year to the Scottish economy.

Nicolas Notebaert, chief executive of VINCI Concessions and president of VINCI Airports, said: "This acquisition of a third freehold airport in the UK, in addition to London Gatwick and Belfast International, demonstrates VINCI Airports' long-term strategic ambition and continued commitment to the country."



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