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EU rubber stamps Vinci’s Gatwick acquisition

Gatwick north terminal

Gatwick’s acquisition by French infrastructure giant Vinci has been approved by the European Commission.

The Commission approved the acquisition under the European Merger Regulation, saying it gave no cause for competition concerns due to the limited overlap between the other trading activities of the merging parties.

Vinci announced plans to buy just over half of Gatwick Airport for £2.9bn in December. A division of the firm, called Vinci Airports, is behind the purchase of the 50.01% stake.

New York-based fund managers Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) is selling the stake. It also owns Edinburgh Airport. GIP still owns the remaining Gatwick airport shares.

News of Vinci buying more than half of Gatwick Airport in December came just a couple of months after the airport unveiled a new draft masterplan which outlines how it intends to increase its capacity into the early 2030s.

The plan outlines three scenarios under which the airport can expand. Draft plans include using new technology to boost capacity on the main runway; routinely use the existing emergency runway; and safeguarding an additional runway for the future.

At present, Gatwick’s emergency runway is only allowed to be used when the main runway is closed for maintenance or emergencies. But the 40-year planning agreement restricting the use of the emergency runway expires in 2019.

Operating the main runway and the emergency runway simultaneously would allow Gatwick to add between 10 and 15 hourly aircraft movements in the peak hours, the airport has claimed.

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