UK. Another chapter begins today for London Gatwick Airport with the arrival of a new owner following the establishment of a long-term partnership between Vinci Airports and existing owner Global Infrastructure Partners.

As previously reported, Vinci’s plans to take a majority stake in the UK’s second busiest airport after London Heathrow have been realised. The private airport operator has completed the purchase of a 50.01% stake in Gatwick leaving existing owner, Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), with the remaining 49.99%. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System will retain a 9.99% share in Gatwick as part of GIP’s stake.

The deal will bring Vinci’s considerable international expertise (the group manages 46 airports around the globe) to the London gateway, with an emphasis on quality of service and programme management. A further £1.1 billion (US$1.4 billion) capital investment programme will deliver a range of passenger improvements by 2023, said Gatwick Airport Limited.

New partners (from left): President of Vinci Airports and CEO of Vinci Concessions Nicolas Notebaert; Gatwick Airport CEO Stewart Wingate; and GIP Partner Michael McGhee.

President of Vinci Airports and CEO of Vinci Concessions Nicolas Notebaert commented: “Applying our joint skills will add significant value to both Vinci Airports and London Gatwick and benefit our stakeholders, notably airlines and passengers. Combining our expertise will further improve our operational excellence and sustain our shared vision of putting passengers’ satisfaction at the heart of everything we do.”

GIP Partner Michael McGhee added: “The GIP-VINCI partnership is focused on continuing the transformation of the airport.” GIP also owns Edinburgh Airport, and it recently acquired 50% of Orsted’s Hornsea 1, the UK’s largest offshore wind farm. The group previously owned London City Airport from 2006 to 2016.

Following Vinci’s arrival, Sir David Higgins, Stewart Wingate and Nick Dunn all remain respectively Chairman, CEO and CFO at the airport. They will be joined by Cédric Laurier, from Vinci Airports, as Chief Technical Officer.

Commenting on the deal. Higgins said: “We are grateful for this strong vote of confidence in Gatwick and the UK.” Wingate added: “The management team and I will remain focused on delivering exceptional service to our passengers and to developing longer-term plans to grow our airport.”

Gatwick Airport has over 60 long-range routes now operating to Asia, North and South America and beyond.

History of achievements since 2009 acquisition

Since December 2009, when GIP bought London Gatwick from the now defunct monopoly airports operator BAA, passenger numbers have grown from 32 million to more than 46 million in 2019. The airport has also managed to simultaneously increase its passenger satisfaction with a December 2018 Quality of Service Monitor score of 4.29 out of 5.0 – a ten-year high.

From a duty free perspective – Dufry is the operator at the airport – Gatwick has increased sales opportunities by growing its long-haul network, with over 60 long-range routes now operating to Asia, North and South America and beyond. Gatwick claims to fly to more destinations than any other UK airport with recent additions including Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro and San Francisco.