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EDITIONS
Friday, 6 December, 2002, 20:36 GMT
City airport sale extended
City Airport
New terminal opened last year in the City Airport
The deadline for bids to buy Belfast City Airport has been extended.

Friday was the deadline set for final bids.

There are four bids - one of them from TBI, the owners of Belfast International Airport.

The bidders were set a very tight deadline by Bombardier, the owners of the airport.

Competition authorities

The interested parties asked for a two week extension to the deadline and that was granted.

In the past, Belfast International airport has attempted to take over the City Airport. A previous bid was blocked on competition grounds as it was thought not to be in the public interest.

However, it is thought TBI has argued that because of changed circumstances the ability for it to push up prices would not be possible.

If the TBI bid is successful it will be referred to the competition authorities.

It is estimated the airport is worth somewhere between 40-50m.

Transport infrastructure

Canadian owners Bombardier said the airport was "no longer seen as a core part of its business strategy".

The company acquired the airport when it bought Belfast aircraft company Shorts in 1989.

About 800 people are employed at the site.

Bombardier said that while there would be a change of ownership "the airport will continue to operate and to develop its position as a fundamental part of Northern Ireland's transport infrastructure".

Belfast City has been open for commercial air traffic since 1983. Currently three airlines - bmi British Midland, flybe and British Airways CitiExpress - serve some 18 destinations in Great Britain daily.

Approximately 1.8 million passengers are expected to use the airport this year.

Around 360 people are directly employed by the airport with a further 450 airline and other staff based there.

When the sale was announced, Northern Ireland's transport watchdog, the General Consumer Council, said Belfast's two airports should remain in separate ownership.

See also:

09 Sep 02 | N Ireland
06 Sep 02 | N Ireland
21 Dec 99 | N Ireland
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