Sunday 11 March 2012 11:25 pm

Airlines hire Rothschild to sell off NATS

A GROUP of seven airlines, under umbrella company The Airline Group, has hired Rothschild to protect its stake in the National Air Traffic Services (NATS) during the government’s sale of its 48.9 per cent share. The deal, which could earn the state £1bn, was announced by chancellor George Osborne last year and is expected to be announced in the next few months. The new investor will own a controlling stake in the air traffic controller as the government and the Airline Group, which holds 42 per cent, sell down to about 20 per cent each. The Airline Group includes British Airways, BMI, EasyJet, Monarch Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines, Thomson Airways and Virgin Atlantic, while airport operator BAA owns four per cent. NATS controls nearly all flights through British airspace and entered into the current public-private partnership in 2001.