Airport investment is continuing despite many BAA sites being up for sale
The world of UK airports has been somewhat turbulent for the last 12 months.
Earlier this year the British Airports Authority – which spent £1.2 billion on its capital investment programme in 2008 - was ordered to sell Gatwick, Stansted and either Edinburgh or Glasgow to increase competition among UK airports, leading to more consumer choice.
As well as the above airports and the beast that is Heathrow, BAA also owns and operates Southampton and Aberdeen airports.
Whatever the outcome of the sale BAA will remain the largest operator in the UK, followed by Manchester Airport Group – a holding group owned by the 10 metropolitan boroughs of Greater Manchester.
Meanwhile Peel Holdings owns and operates Liverpool John Lennon, City Airport Manchester, Robin Hood Airport and is joint owner of Durham Tees Valley airport.
At Heathrow BAA continues to invest in modernising facilities. In its latest annual results the airport operator said it expects to invest £4.3 billion between August 2008 and March 2013, with the most significant spend relating to the construction of the new Terminal 2A and its satellite Terminal 2B, which will replace the existing Terminal 2.
Terminals 3 and 4 are to be extensively refurbished and there will investment in the improvement of baggage connections across the airport.
This potential work will be procured mainly through BAA’s nine complex build contractors and five commodity build integrators.
Meet the buyers
But for smaller suppliers looking to get into the sector BAA gives active support around the Heathrow area by running an annual ‘Meet the Buyers’ event.
Last year representatives from more than 300 local businesses attended.
Meet the Buyers reverses the traditional exhibition concept by placing potential buyers on stands for relevant local suppliers to sell to in a series of pre-arranged appointments. Suppliers are matched to the buyers’ purchasing requirements in advance.
At the last event Chris Jones from Slough-based Hire Station placed £20,000 worth of business in providing plant and tool hire equipment.
In addition Berkshire-based mechanical and electrical company Taylor & Goodman generated around £25,000 of business. The firm predicted its chances of gaining further work from the event were a potential £180,000 more.
BAA Heathrow economic development manager Joe Hardman says: “In the current economic climate, we believe that this year’s event is more important than ever. Last year, Heathrow Meet the Buyers generated an estimated £5 million in new business: an impressive figure that we nevertheless aim to beat this year.”
The UK’s largest airport owner, Manchester Airport Group, is also set to invest heavily over the next six years.
At its flagship Manchester Airport Terminal 1 will see a £35 million redevelopment, which will see the creation of one of the UK’s largest airside shopping facilities. A further £11 million will go towards improving security processes and enhancing retail and catering services after security at Terminal 2.
And the first phase of the immigration hall upgrades is set to get underway – with the introduction of new flooring, screens and immigration desks in Terminals 1 and 2.
Just to the north of London, Luton Airport could prove to hold a number of opportunities for smaller business.
The base, which houses the largest of EasyJet’s UK fleets, withdrew its expansion plans in 2007 in favour of making the most of its existing facilities.