‘Shoddy’ city airport ‘needs major overhaul’ after sale

INVESTORS eyeing Edinburgh Airport are drawing up proposals for another major facelift to improve efficiency and attract more long-haul flights less than two years after it benefited from a £40 million overhaul.

Potential bidders for the airport, which is expected to attract offers in excess of £400m, say it requires further significant changes to areas such as security, access to the terminals, check-in and the departure lounges – even though current owner BAA already forked out £40m on an upgrade in 2010.

One potential bidder said many aspects of the airport’s design and operation were “shoddy” and considerable improvements would be needed, particularly if Scotland has ambitions to attract more long-haul carriers.

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In 2010, finance minister John Swinney unveiled the new-look Edinburgh Airport, with an enlarged security hall and new shopping and eating facilities.

The prospectus for the sale was distributed to interested parties earlier this month and the first bids are expected in early February.

The Competition Commission, which is forcing Spanish-owned BAA to offload the airport, is keen to conclude the sale by the summer. It is likely to attract a large number of offers, and several names have already been connected to a potential bid.

Frontrunners are expected to include private equity group 3i, which is working with the Universities Superannuation Scheme and fund manager M&G; Gatwick and London City airports owner Global Infrastructure Partners; and a consortium involving Carlyle Group, Sir Angus Grossart and Sir Brian Souter.

As revealed by Scotland on Sunday, another Scottish consortium led by Ben Thomson, chairman of Inverleith Capital, and former Edinburgh Airport managing director Richard Jeffrey has lined up the finance for a potential bid, while representatives from JP Morgan’s infrastructure fund are understood to have travelled to Scotland earlier this month to sound out potential backers.

Arcus European Infrastructure Fund, the owner of Forth Ports, may also table an offer.