THE future of Humberside Airport was today secured as the Manchester Airports Group (MAG) sold its 82.7% shareholding to Eastern Group for an undisclosed sum.
North Lincolnshire Council will retain its minority stake in Humberside Airport leaving MAG to concentrate on its strategy of maximising the growth opportunities offered by the larger Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth Airports.
Employees at Humberside Airport and North Lincolnshire Council have been informed of MAG’s decision.
With annual passenger numbers of 275,000, Humberside Airport’s aviation activities include scheduled and charter passenger services, freight, as well as being home to the second largest airport based heliport serving the North Sea offshore industry, aircraft maintenance, pilot training and a variety of other specialised niches.
Commenting on the move, MAG Chief Executive, Charlie Cornish, said: “MAG has believed for some time that the best long-term operational model for Humberside Airport was with a new owner that could focus on taking the business forward into the next phase of its development.
“The Eastern Group specialises in aviation related activities and we are delighted that our former colleagues at the airport will now have a new owner who can concentrate on developing the business.”
Bryan Huxford, Chairman of Eastern Group, said: “We are making a strategic financial investment acquiring Humberside Airport. The airport has potential for growth, and under the present airport management team, supported by Eastern Group, will develop in accordance with the business plan already in place.”
Councillor Liz Redfern, leader of North Lincolnshire Council, said: “These measures are vital in helping secure a viable future for Humberside Airport.
“There are a number of unique opportunities to deliver jobs and growth and support, and underpin further investment in the area. The airport has a fantastic business park with huge potential. Its location is perfect with easy access to the ports and South Humber Gateway – vital to the future success of our region.
“Working together, we will do all we can to attract further investment and development to North Lincolnshire and create more jobs for local people to secure a promising future.”
The change of ownership will mean it is business as usual for Humberside Airport employees, airlines and passengers, as the current airport management team will continue to manage the operation.
MAG acquired a majority stake in Humberside Airport in 1999 for £10 million and since then, over £7 million has been invested. In April 2008, MAG began an eight month review of its shareholding in Humberside Airport, but it was retained within the Group’s portfolio of airports because of a combination of positive business developments and a worsening economic climate.
Although the value of the deal will not be disclosed by either party, MAG believes that today’s deal with Eastern Group represents the best possible outcome both for its business, Humberside Airport and its new owners.
The Corporate Finance team at law firm Pannone advised Manchester Airports Group (MAG) on the sale. Partner Steven Grant led the team at Pannone which included Tom Hall, Harriet Sutherland, Amy Chandler and Victoria Dolan.