VAS gains stake in UK airports

Peel Airports owns Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Robin Hood Airport near Doncaster and a 75 per cent stake in Durham Tees Valley Airport (local borough councils own the remaining 25 per cent).

 Liverpool's John Lennon Airport is one of the UK's 10 busiest airports, serving almost five million passengers last year, while Robin Hood Airport, which opened in 2005, is its newest airport, serving more than 850,000 passengers in 2009.

Peel has been seeking out a strategic partner as the recession has hit traffic at the airports, which rely heavily on charter flights and low-cost airlines.

Commenting on the deal, George Casey, president and CEO of Vancouver Airport Services, said: “Vancouver Airport Services has a strong track record of investing in and providing value-added management services for airports around the world. We look forward to working with The Peel Group and the stakeholders involved in these airports.”

Peel Group chairman John Whittaker added: “We are delighted to move forward and partner with Vancouver Airport Services. Its network of international airports and expertise as a leading airport specialist will further increase the success of these growing regional airport businesses.

“The retention of a significant investment in the joint venture, together with our associated airport-related property, is firmly in line with our strategy of creating long term partnerships to unlock value from the relationship between our diverse infrastructure, transport and real estate assets.”

VAS, which is jointly owned by Vancouver Airport Authority and Citi Infrastructure Investors, has been keen to gain a foothold in the UK after failing a year ago to buy London's Gatwick Airport, the UK’s second busiest after Heathrow.

The Peel acquisition will bring the number of airports in VAS’s portfolio to 19. They include the Canadian Rockies International Airport in Cranbrook, the Greater Moncton International Airport in New Brunswick, the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica and the Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport in Santiago, Chile.

In 2009, VAS’s network of airports handled 28.5 million passengers and reported revenues of more than C$530 million (US$514 million).

The Peel Group is a leading infrastructure, transport and real estate enterprise in the UK with assets in excess of £6 billion. It holds investments in ports, airports, media, energy, land, developments, investment property, environmental assets, hotels, utilities and advertising, as well as a portfolio of investments in quoted companies.