Talking about Gatwick

Last month’s £1.5 billion sale of London Gatwick Airport to Global Infrastructure Partners was one of the standout infrastructure deals of the year. So much so in fact that when news of the deal broke in the early morning of 21 October, a lot of people had a view on it. Here’s what some of the many interested parties had to say after learning that Britain’s second-busiest airport will have a new owner in December, provided the transaction reaches regulatory closure.

“We will upgrade and modernise Gatwick Airport to transform the experience for both business and leisure passengers. We plan to work closely with the airlines to improve performance, as we have done successfully at London City Airport.”
    Michael McGhee, a partner at GIP and the fund’s leader of the acquisition

“Gatwick and its people have long been a central part of BAA and we are proud of the airport’s development as one of the world’s leading international airports. BAA is changing and today’s announcement marks a new beginning for both Gatwick and BAA. We wish Gatwick well for the future and are confident that the airport will flourish under new ownership. BAA will focus on improving Heathrow and our other airports.”
    Colin Matthews, CEO of BAA

“As the largest long-haul airline using the airport, we look forward to working with Global Infrastructure Partners on making Gatwick even better for our passengers. For years, the airport has suffered from a lack of investment and the new owner now needs to work closely with the airline users to turn Gatwick into a world-class facility. We don’t want to see the creation of another BAA and hope GIP listens carefully to the views of airlines about future development.”
    Paul Charles, director of communications at Virgin Atlantic Airways

“We welcome this change in ownership and look forward to working with GIP. Regardless of who owns Gatwick, it is still a monopoly. Therefore it is vital that Gatwick is properly regulated to protect airline passengers from the new owners exploiting their market power. It is vital that the Government’s review of airport regulation produces a tougher and more effective system than the current discredited one, which has contributed so much to the poor state of London’s airports.”
    easyJet chief executive Andy Harrison

“We have long been calling for the break-up of BAA’s monopoly over so much airport capacity in south east England so we welcome progress in taking that forward. However, it is vital that the new owners strive to improve the service customers receive and also work with local communities to minimise the airport’s environmental impact.”
    Shadow secretary for transport secretary Theresa Villiers

“We hope that this news will mean that there will be better service for passengers at Gatwick than that provided by BAA. We don’t think this should be a green light for expansion at Gatwick. For many reasons, we are opposed to expansion of south east England airports. We think Gatwick should be better, not bigger.”
    Stephen Joseph, director of the Campaign for Better Transport

“The new owners of Gatwick should be under no illusions, the challenge of preventing dangerous climate change means that further expansion of the airport cannot be permitted. UK emissions must fall by at least 42 per cent by 2020 if we are to play our part in slashing emissions. This means that new runways cannot be contemplated, regardless of who owns Gatwick.”
    Richard Dyer of Friends of the Earth