Julian Bray Aviation Expert comments: "The unexpected enforced sale of Stansted Airport to the Manchester Airport Group is an unforseen major blow to High Speed Rail 2 supporters, as almost immediate predatory air fare and air freight pricing between Manchester and Stansted, will be in place to raise market share, several years before the HS2 railway is completed. MAG will also lobby for a major upgrade of the current Stansted Express rail shuttle into London. This will certainly seriously damage suggested premium passenger and freight revenues currently being used as justification for the new 'Y; route to Manchester. It will also put another nail in the coffin for any hopes of a Dubai owned Magna Park Road Rail freight interchange terminal at Peterborough, Cambridgeshire as Stansted is already served by rail, and additionally Network Rail recently announced a new link from Peterborough to the west coast rail routes.
So what is being proposed? Stansted airport, one of the favourite sites to rival Heathrow as part of an expansion of airport capacity in the southeast of England, is to be sold by HAH formerly known as BAA for around £1.5bn in an enforced disposal ordered by the Competition Commission.
The sale of the UK's third largest airport to Manchester Airports Group (MAG) is expected to be completed by the end of February, the MAG groups' three existing airports and a property business contribute around £3.2bn in revenues to the UK.
The breakup of BAA ordered by the Competition Commission reduces airports operated by the company from seven to four.
The Competition Commission ruled in July 2011, BAA (renamed HAH - Heathrow Airport Holdings) should dispose of Stansted and either Glasgow or Edinburgh (it later sold Edinburgh) airport as part of a breakup which was initially resisted during a succession of legal challenges. This reduces airports operated by HAH from seven to four. Namely Heathrow, Southampton, Aberdeen and Glasgow.
Stansted, located in Essex, is London's third busiest airport, a major hub for budget airlines such as Ryanair, and simgled out by London's mayor, Boris Johnson, as the only viable alternative to proposals to construct a £50bn 'Boris Island' airport in the Thames estuary. Stansted handles some 17.5 million passengers, and over 131,000 flights a year ; posting pre-tax profits of £86.6m in 2011, and estimated to be £94.2m in 2012.
In addition to operating Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports, MAG owns a commercial property company, MAG Developments, a £350m portfolio held across the three airports, and is leading the £650m Enterprise Zone development, Manchester Airport City. Suggesting that Stansted will in future substantially expand air cargo hub operations between MAGs' airport portfolio and operate inter group air/road/rail freight transfer, as carried out at by many international airlines at Heathrow. A good example being Alitalia who already truck air cargo transits by road from the UK to its Rome airport hub.
It also runs businesses in car parking, airport security, firefighting, engineering, advertising and motor transport.
MAG had been one of the bidders for Gatwick when BAA put it up for sale while the competition inquiry was going on but it lost out to American private equity group Global Infrastructure Partners which now also runs Edinburgh.
Contributor: Media Expert, Aviation, Politics & Travel Commentator, Broadcaster & Journalist Julian Bray NUJ, EQUITY UK Landline: 01733 345581 Mobile: 07944 217476 ISDN2 +44(0)1733 555 319 (UK HOME ISDN 01733 555319) G722/APT-X Dual Codecs SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK