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Europe

'Brexit helped us close the deal' says Gatwick airport buyers Vinci

media London Gatwick airport made media headlines in December 2018, as reported drone sightings caused severe disruption to flights REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Uncertainty about Brexit helped French company Vinci clinch the purchase of Gatwick Airport, company sources said.A no-deal Brexit could cause disruption in aviation safety standards for both the EU and the UK.

 

French conglomerate Vinci said Thursday it had bought control of Gatwick airport, Britain's second-busiest, for nearly 3.3 billion euros, only months before Brexit.

The purchase of Gatwick, which is Europe's eight-biggest airport and runs the busiest single runway in the world, comes only months before Britain is to leave the European Union.

The proximity of Brexit "probably helped us close the deal", Nicolas Notebaert, Vinci Airports chief, told a telephone conference.

The absence of a Brexit deal with the EU could cause major air travel problems as both sides would no longer recognise each other's aviation safety standards.

Vinci said it will own a 50.01-percent stake in Gatwick thanks to the deal worth £2.9 billion ($3.7 billion, 3.2 billion euros) by the end of June.

Gatwick made headlines last week when it closed its runway repeatedly due to reports of mystery drone sightings nearby, impacting nearly 140,000 passengers.

Construction giant buying up airports 

Vinci is best-known for being one of the world's biggest construction companies, employing close to 200,000 people across the globe, and for running motorways in France.

But the company has also been buying up airports -- most recently in Brazil, Japan and Serbia -- making it "a top 5 global player in the international airport sector", according to a statement by Gatwick. One of its best-known airports is the hub of Portugal's capital Lisbon.

With the latest acquisition, Vinci Airports will control 46 airports in 12 countries with a total traffic of 228 million passengers a year.

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