London Stansted's owner has flogged struggling Bournemouth Airport as it seeks to clear the decks of its loss-making assets.
The south coast airport was sold by owner Manchester Airports Group (MAG) to tech entrepreneur Sir Peter Rigby.
Rigby's Stratford-based group has hoovered up a number of the UK's financial distressed airports in recent years including Exeter and Norwich.
While the amount Rigby paid for Bournemouth was not disclosed, City sources suggested it would be little more than a nominal sum given the airport's latest financial statements. Bournemouth posted a pre-tax loss of £6.3m in its most recent annual return.
MAG has spent around £50m on upgrading Bournemouth since buying the airport in 2001.
In April 2016, Bournemouth was hit by a double-whammy of bad news – Flybe withdrew from the airport and it lost a lucrative Royal Mail cargo contract. The two events led to the airport shouldering an £8.4m write-down of assets as a result.
“The acquisition of Bournemouth Airport represents an important landmark in our strategy to create a robust and credible group of regional airport assets and services across the UK," said Sir Peter Rigby, who has a net worth estimated at £850m.
"Not only does it expand our catchment to include the major regions of South England, but also focuses operations on a core market poorly serviced by the major aviation players."
Sir Peter's son Steve added: “While already a well-run and robust operation, Bournemouth Airport is ripe for growth. Growing demand for both UK and International flights in nearby Southampton offers significant scope to increase passenger numbers, while the site’s potential as a regional business hub also represents a clear opportunity for expansion. We’re here to do business, and have already reached out to key regional stakeholders with a view to driving forward to growth of the airport.
The deal leaves MAG with three main commercial airport operations: Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands.