Airport Sold for £60 million to RCA

RCA brings infrastructure development skills of Balfour Beatty

DEVON County Council has sold Exeter International Airport for £60 million to Regional and City Airports (Exeter) Ltd (RCA) in a deal described as good news for the airport’s future and the county economy.

RCA brings both the investment expertise and infrastructure development skills of Balfour Beatty, the UK’s leading engineering, construction and services group, and the airport operational skills of London City Airport to the task of building on the airport’s impressive growth record of recent years.

RCA say they want Exeter to become “the natural airport of choice for the region.” RCA was the unanimous choice of the County Council’s all-party steering group, chaired by Cllr Greenslade, which has overseen the sale process.

As part of the sale London City Airport will provide additional management expertise through a technical services agreement to support the further growth and development of Exeter International Airport.

The County Council will retain a “golden share” and a non executive seat on the board of Exeter International Airport. The golden share will protect the Council’s interests by requiring the new owners to provide and maintain airport facilities to a set of objective criteria based on Civil Aviation Authority regulations and Department for Transport security regulations.

Councillor Greenslade said “RCA were the unanimous choice of the all party steering group which has overseen the sale process.  I am grateful to the steering group and County Council officers and advisors for the work that has been done. The bid submitted by RCA was outstanding and we are confident that the future success of Exeter International Airport for the people of the county and the Devon economy will be assured. It is also very good news for the mployees of EIA and the airlines that use the airport. Regional and City Airports have an excellent track record at London City Airport not least in terms of the care they take to be good neighbours to the community who live around the airport. We are assured that they will take the same care with operating Exeter International Airport.

I would also like to pay tribute to the Exeter and Devon Airport Ltd Board, the management and staff of Exeter International Airport who under the ownership of Devon County Council have taken the Airport from a loss making position, which was subsidised by the County Council, to an operating profit position which has made it such an attractive asset for sale. In saying this I would pay tribute to our local airline Flybe who have shown confidence in Exeter International Airport and helped to grow the operations at Exeter to a level we could have only dreamed of a few years ago.”

Cllr Richard Westlake, Chairman of the Exeter and Devon Airport Ltd Board, said: “Exeter International Airport has gone from strength to strength under Devon County Council’s stewardship. I would like to thank the airport management and staff for the great contribution they have made to the airport’s development. I look forward to Exeter International Airport achieving even greater success under the ownership of Regional and City Airports.”

Balfour Beatty Statement

Commenting on the deal, RCA Director of Airport Management, John Spooner, said: “This is a great start to the new year for the airport, for RCA and for Flybe. Together, we have a vision for Exeter International Airport, in which it becomes the natural airport of choice for the region. We aim to deliver an efficient, high-quality service and offer excellent value for money.

Balfour Beatty, the international engineering, construction and services group, announced that Regional and City Airports (RCA), its specialist airport investment and development group, has completed the acquisition of Exeter and Devon International Airport Ltd, which owns Exeter International Airport, for a consideration of £60 million.

The acquisition is being financed through £31 million of equity, with Balfour Beatty as the lead investor. The remainder of the consideration will be satisfied by limited recourse borrowings, with HSBC as financial adviser and lead arranger. London City Airport, through a technical services agreement, will be Balfour Beatty’s operational partner at the airport.

Commenting on the sale, Balfour Beatty Chief Executive, Ian Tyler, said: “Exeter International Airport is one of the fastest-growing regional airports in the UK and it is anticipated it will handle over a million passengers in 2006/2007. We anticipate further strong growth in passenger numbers and have a clear operational and development plan for the airport over the long term, which takes our growth forecasts fully into account. Our vision for Exeter International Airport is that it should become the airport of choice for the region.”

Exeter International Airport is positioned within a strong local economy with a high propensity to fly and has significant opportunities to increase both its share of the regional market and the use of the airport by the population in the surrounding area. The airport will be substantially redeveloped with new terminal facilities, new aircraft stands and, in the longer term, further  terminal capacity, stand and taxiway development.
It is anticipated that a new departures building will be constructed by 2010.

The initial development phase will also include improvements to the airport’s surface access, stand and apron enhancements and an increase in car parking capacity. In the longer term, further terminal and ancillary facilities expansion is envisaged to be carried out over three phases.