Ailing airport arm sold off at Go-Ahead

GO-AHEAD, the bus and train group, said yesterday it had finally ditched its loss-making aviation arm, selling the airports handling business off in two separate deals.<br /><br />French rival Servisair is paying a nominal fee to extend its UK network to over 24 airports, and will also run Gatwick&rsquo;s passenger lounge and Stansted&rsquo;s cargo operations. <br /><br />Meanwhile, Dubai-based Dnata &ndash; part of the Emirates group &ndash; is paying &pound;15m to take on the cargo and ground handling operations at Heathrow and Manchester airports, marking its first entry into the UK airport handling arena. <br /><br />The sale will allow Go-Ahead, which runs lucrative commuter train franchises and bus companies around the capital, to focus on growing those core areas. The operator had posted a loss of &pound;5.2m from its airports Aviance arm for the year to June, but will hold on to some activities at Heathrow and its airport parking business. <br /><br />Keith Ludeman, who became chief executive of Go-Ahead three years ago, has been trying to axe the arm since he took the helm. &ldquo;We are pleased to be selling these operations,&rdquo; he said yesterday. <br /><br />The news that Dnata &ndash; the travel services company owned by Investment Corporation of Dubai &ndash; will take on the acquisition comes after the emirate&nbsp; shook markets worldwide last month. <br /><br />State backed investment group Dubai World said it was seeking a &ldquo;standstill&rdquo; agreement on $59bn (&pound;32bn) of loans it has run up.