BALFOUR BEATTY has lost out on the £250M contract to build the second Tyne tunnel, just a week after failing to purchase Leeds Bradford International Airport.
French contractor Bouygues beat the UK giant to become preferred bidder on the contract to construct a new crossing and refurbish the current Tyne tunnel in Newcastle upon Tyne.
The scheme will be let as a concession and would have netted Balfour Beatty and its joint venture partner Volker Stein more than £1bn in tolls over the 30 years of the deal.
This loss added to the contractor's failure to reach preferred bidder status in the sale of Bradford Airport on 4 April.
Following its £60M purchase of Exeter Airport in January Balfour Beatty has identified the operation of regional UK airports as a key area of expansion.
fiAirports are really important to us, fl said Balfour Beatty Management managing director David James.
fiWe are bidding for Leeds Bradford and will bid for Birmingham International if it comes up. fl He added that the firm would be interested in buying an airport in Scotland should the Competition Commission wish to break up BAA's monopoly.
Tyne & Wear Passenger Transport Authority (TWPTA) awarded the Tyne tunnel concession to Bouygues over Balfour Beatty based on the quality rather than the price of the French firm's bid.
fiWe scored across both bids on areas such as technical, service delivery, functional, logistical, community and partnering, and Bouygues scored considerably higher, fl said TWPTA New Tyne Crossing project director Paul Fenwick.
He added there was minimal difference in price.
Construction of the 2.6km two-lane crossing will start in February 2008.
The central 360m section will be an immersed tube, linked to cut and cover approach tunnels on each bank.
It is due to open to traffic in 2008.