GTMC: Manchester Airport confirms interest in Stansted

GTMC: Manchester Airport confirms interest in Stansted

Manchester Airports Group has confirmed its interest in buying Stansted and possibly one of Glasgow or Edinburgh airports.

A Manchester triumph at Stansted would see a move to bring in more long-haul carriers and cut the airport’s dependence on low-cost carriers in general and Ryanair in particular.

Current Stansted owner BAA is under Competition Commission instructions to sell the airport, along with either Glasgow or Edinburgh, although the timetable for the sell-off is unclear. BAA was forced to sell Gatwick in 2009, with Manchester Airports Group (MAG) failing in its bid to take over the airport.

MAG external affairs director Jonathan Bailey told the Guild of Travel Management Companies conference in Abu Dhabi: “We plan to acquire more airports, in the first instance in the UK.”

The group currently owns Manchester, East Midlands, Bournemouth and Humberside.

Bailey told Travel Weekly: “We will look at the BAA airports. Whether we make a bid is a different question.”

However, he revealed a MAG takeover of Stansted would see a sharp change of strategy at the airport. “We would fight hard to win traffic from Heathrow and Gatwick,” said Bailey. “At Stansted, 70% of traffic is Ryanair and 90% is low-cost.

“Ryanair is ruthlessly efficient and in many respects very good to work with. But it is big risk being so dependent on one operator that would put off many potential bidders. We would want to bring in other, long-haul carriers and change the mix of traffic.”

The Competition Commission has not announced a timetable for BAA to sell the airports, but the process is likely to take two to three years.

Bailey said: “BAA has been successful in postponing the sale from the depth from the recession.” 

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