New French owners for Belfast International Airport

Belfast International Airport has been purchased by French infrastructure giant Vinci

A FRENCH infrastructure giant has purchased Belfast International Airport as part of global expansion plans.

Vinci confirmed yesterday it has acquired the portfolio held by Airports Worldwide (AWW), which includes Belfast, for an undisclosed sum. The Airports Worldwide portfolio, which had been majority owned by Canadian infrastructure investment manager OMERS, comprises 12 airports and includes sites in Europe, the US and Costa Rica.

Ralph Berg, executive vice president at OMERS Private Markets confirmed the transaction, which is expected to close later this year.

"OMERS first invested in AWW in 2009. We have focused our efforts since that time on positioning the asset for long-term success, and are very proud of the value we have created with this investment for OMERS members. We wish the AWW team and Vinci all the best, as the company takes this next step in its evolution."

Pinsent Masons Belfast corporate and property teams provided lead local advice for Vinci Airports in Northern Ireland.

The latest deal adds to Vinci Airports' growing network, which previously stretched to 35 facilities across the world. Ranking among the world’s top five airport operators and active in seven countries, Vinci served 157 million passengers last year. The new acquisition boosts Vinci's global network and increases passenger numbers at its airports by 25.6 million. It further allows the company to make a strategic move into the USA, the world's largest air transport market, and bolsters its presence in Europe, where the group already operates 12 airports in France and 10 in Portugal, plus the Nikola-Tesla airport in Belgrade, Serbia. The additional of the two main airports in Costa Rica also strengthens Vinci's position in South and Central America, where it manages the airports in Santiago, Chile and Salvador, Brazil, together with six airports in the Dominican Republic.

News of the new owners at Belfast International Airport comes as planning approval has been granted for a new 81-bedroom Premier Inn hotel in close proximity.

The planning committee of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council granted approval on Monday night to Moorefield Hospitality Ltd and Premier Inn

for the £5m hotel development at the junction of the Ballyrobin and Antrim Roads in Crumlin. The new hotel is set to create 30 construction jobs and as many as 35 full-time positions once complete.

Planning committee chairman, councillor Philip Brett hailed the "fantastic investment" in the local tourism infrastructure.

"The development will create 81 bedrooms on a site of approximately 8 hectares of land. It will also bring much needed construction jobs to the area and increase the offering further to residents and visitors using the gateway of Belfast International Airport.”

Belfast International Airport welcomed a record 5.8 million passengers last year and spent close to £9 million on capital expenditure programme. It is expected that more than six million people will fly out of the Aldergrove facility in 2018.

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