FT reports that uncertain privatisation of AENA casts doubt over its stalled Luton expansion plans

Spanish airport operator, AENA, bought Luton airport in summer 2013 from Abertis. AENA is one of the world’s biggest airport operators in terms of passenger numbers, and manages Spain’s major airports. It also owns minority stakes in 15 more airports around the world. The FT says that now their plans are in doubt and Luton has a question mark over its future. Luton is the UK’s 5th largest airport in terms of passengers, and is the base for easyJet. AENA had plans to expand Luton, taking its annual number of passengers from around 9 million to 18 million – plans that have been fiercely opposed locally. AENA had plans to compete with French airport operator ADP, Germany’s Fraport and Singapore’s Changi. The FT says now AENA’s future is unclear and whether it will allow it to be largely privatised. This is having an impact on its Luton plans. The Luton expansion is being held up, or is on a back burner. The privatisation is a political matter within the Spanish government, and whether it has to sell assets to rescue the nation’s economy. The government hope to avoid selling much of AENA, and if it stays under state control, its Luton expansion plans may be scrapped.  




Stalled Aena plan casts doubt over Luton revival

21.2.2014 (FT)

By Jane Wild and Miles Johnson

When Spain’s airport authority bought Luton airport last year it was supposed to be an emblem of the start of international expansion. Six months later, the plan is in doubt and Luton has a question mark over its future.

But analysts in Spain say that if Aena’s privatisation is derailed, Luton would no longer make sense as an asset in its portfolio, and that raises the prospect of a sale.

Full FT article at





Abertis pulls out of Luton Airport concession in favor of Aena, Ardian

Dec. 3, 2013

Spanish infrastructure company Abertis has completed the sale of its interest in the management of London Luton Airport to a consortium consisting of Spain’s airport management and air navigation services provider Aena and independent investment company Ardian (formerly AXA Private Equity). The proposed sale was announced at the beginning of August, subject to necessary authorizations. These have now been secured and the sale concluded for £433 million ($704).






London Luton Airport acquired by Ardian and AENA

NOVEMBER 28, 2013    (Reuters PE Hub)

Ardian and AENA have completed the acquisition of the London Luton Airport concession from TBI, itself a joint venture 90% owned by Abertis Infrastructuras S.A, and 10% by AENA. The LLA concession, granted by Luton Borough Council, continues until 2031.


The joint venture consortium of Ardian and AENA today confirms that it has completed the acquisition of the London Luton Airport (“LLA”) concession for £394.4 million in equity value from TBI, itself a joint venture 90% owned by Abertis Infraestructuras S.A, and 10% by AENA. The LLA concession, granted by Luton Borough Council, continues until 2031.

The joint venture partners will now look to work with the airport management and all stakeholders to deliver a planned programme of changes to London Luton Airport which will transform the airport and deliver an enhanced customer experience.

London Luton Airport is the fifth largest airport in the UK in terms of passenger numbers. Last year the airport served 9.6 million passengers with departures to over 100 destinations worldwide.

AENA is the world’s largest airport operator with some 200 million passengers a year, and Ardian is an independent private investment company.

AENA operates 46 airports in Spain, including Madrid (45 million annual passengers) and Barcelona (35 million passengers) and participates directly and indirectly in the management of another 15 airports worldwide. Ardian, through its Infrastructure funds, is a major European long term investor in assets that provide people with essential services in transport, energy, water and telecommunications.

Jose Manuel Vargas, AENA’s executive chairman, said: “We are looking forward to working closely with Ardian and the London Luton Airport management team, the local council, the carriers and all stakeholders to help deliver an airport that delivers a quality experience for more customers and supports strongly the local economy.”

Mathias Burghardt, Head of Infrastructure of Ardian, said “As shareholders who hold to a long term perspective, we look forward to providing the certainty and stability necessary for the management of London Luton Airport to succeed. London Luton Airport must fulfil its role within the London airport system and add to the life and economy of Luton and the surrounding area in a sustainable way.”


Notes to Editors:

AENA is the world’s leading airport operator in terms of passenger numbers and serves some 200 million passengers a year. It manages all Spain’s major airports and owns minority stakes in 15 more airports around the world. Madrid-Barajas, a key European hub for South Atlantic flights, handled 45 million passengers in 2012 and is Europe’s fifth largest airport and Barcelona-El Prat, with 35 million, passengers is Europe’s ninth. Other large airports operated by AENA include Palma de Mallorca (22.6 million passengers), Malaga (12.5 million) and Alicante (8.8 million). AENA’s modern and functional airports are designed to improve passengers’ experience in the airport and offer a wide range of top quality retail and catering services.

Founded in 1996 and led by Dominique Senequier, Ardian is a premium independent private investment company with assets of US$36bn managed or advised in Europe, North America and Asia. The company, which is managed and majority-owned by its employees, keeps entrepreneurship at its heart and delivers investment performance to its global investors while fuelling growth in economies across the world. Ardian’s investment process blends discipline and conviction with a long-term philosophy.

Ardian maintains a truly global network, with more than 300 employees working through ten offices in Beijing, Frankfurt, Jersey, London, Luxembourg, Milan, New York, Paris, Singapore, and Zurich. The company offers its 255 investors a diversified choice of funds covering the full range of asset classes, including Funds of Funds (primary, early secondary and secondary), Direct Funds including Infrastructure, Small and Mid-Market Enterprise Capital, Innovation & Growth, Co-Investment and Private Debt.


London Luton Airport is one of the UK’s largest airports and carried 9.6 million passengers in 2012. The Airport directly and indirectly employs over 500 and 8,000 staff respectively, is a key economic driver for the region and a major base for ‘low cost’ or ‘no frills’ air travel.

easyJet, Wizz Air, Ryanair, Monarch, Thomson, EL AL, Blue Air and Flybe operate from the airport, departing to 100 destinations including services to Europe, Africa, and Asia, with onward connections to Mumbai, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Beijing and Bangkok via Tel Aviv.




AENA adds Luton Airport to its portfolio

1 August 2013 Spain’s AENA and the infrastructure fund of AXA Private Equity are to acquire the management concession for Luton Airport from TBI for £394.4m. Luton Airport is publicly owned by Luton Borough Council but is operated, managed and developed by a private consortium, London Luton Airport Operations Ltd (LLAOL). TBI, which is jointly owned by AENA (10%) and Spanish infrastructure group abertis (90%), became the majority shareholder in LLAOL in March 2001. AENA said the acquisition of Luton marked its first step in a strategy to replace those minority stakes with a portfolio of airports in which it has management control. The purchase will be financed by existing credit lines and by the sale of the minority stakes. Luton handled 9.6m passengers last year, making it both the UK’s and AENA’s fifth biggest airport.The Spanish government plans to partially privatise AENA in the coming months. For more details of the Luton deal from AENA click here and for a statement from abertis here. http://www.e-tid.com/aena-adds-luton-airport-to-its-portfolio/83658/