15 Oct 2013

Infratil makes £1 airport sale

12:57 pm on 15 October 2013

New Zealand infrastructure investor Infratil has sold its airport in Kent for £1.

The deal to sell Manston Airport to the co-founder of British listed public transport company Stagecoach Group, Ann Gloag, will be effective from 29 November.

It will include various adjustments, such as for any cash Infratil has put in since 14 October.

Ann Gloag says she believes there is real potential at the airport and her 30 years of working in the transport industry means she is well-placed to help maximise opportunities to grow both passenger numbers and freight.

The nominal sale follows last week's announcement that Infratil was cutting its losses by essentially giving its Glasgow Prestwick airport to the Scottish Government.

The Prestwick and Manston airports lost nearly $10 million at the operating level in the 12 months to the end of March when Infratil wrote down their value by $53 million.

Infratil chief financial officer Kevin Baker says his company will write off the Kent and Glasgow airports' nominal value of £11 million in its September accounts.

He says the company has been working through the process for more than a year and a number of purchasers have looked at the airport over that time.

Mr Baker says the new owner has indicated they are keen to continue the progress Infratil has made with the airport.

"Freight has been developing in terms on tonnage over the last few years, but clearly it's been difficult with the state of the UK economy," he says.

"I think there's every chance that a local player who's got good connections in the region, and with improvements in the UK economy, that the airport will be able to grow and be successful at some time in the future."