This week’s announcement by the British Airports Authority that it will sell London’s Gatwick Airport has everyone wondering about the future of the city’s second busiest hub.
The BAA, owned by the Spanish group Ferrovial, sold Gatwick for £1.5 billion ($2.49 billion) to Global Infrastructure Partners, owned by Credit Suisse and General Electric. The deal comes after the UK government decided the BAA had a near monopoly and ordered it to sell Gatwick and Stansted, both serving London, as well as either Glasgow or Edinburgh airports.
BAA also owns Heathrow, London’s busiest airport, and is expected to use some of the money for that airport’s infrastructure, but most of it will be go towards reducing a staggering pile of debt amounting to almost £10 billion ($16.6 billion).
What this means for travelers is not yet clear. The new owners have stated they plan to modernize Gatwick, and have expressed interest in expanding the north terminal and adding a second runway. Gatwick is the world’s busiest single-runway airport, serving more than 32 million passengers last year. An agreement with local residents has stopped any additional runways until 2019, but now that there’s a new company in the cockpit, that may change. A new runway could enable Gatwick to serve up to 80 million passengers a year, more than Heathrow. The situation will become clearer in early December when Global Infrastructure Partners officially takes over.