Richard Branson, the billionaire owner of airline Virgin Atlantic, said yesterday he is eyeing a £2bn bid for airports group BAA’s London Gatwick airport if it were put up for sale.
A Virgin Atlantic spokesman said: “This is something we have given a lot of serious thought to.”
He added: “We have talked to other investors about this in the past, and we plan to do so again.”
The long-haul airline said that it would only bid for Gatwick as part of a consortium.
Virgin’s comments come after the Competition Commission said this month that BAA-owner, Spanish infrastructure business Ferrovial, must sell three of its seven British airports, including two of its three airports based in London – Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted.
Branson added: “We are open to being courted by anyone who is interested in bidding.”
Branson said he has already held talks with potential bidders, thought to include funds backed by the Dubai royal family.
Virgin Atlantic said it would bring its strong customer service record to any consortium interested in buying Gatwick, Britain’s second-biggest airport behind Heathrow.
Many parties have already indicated their interest in bidding for one or more of the BAA airports. Manchester Airport Group, Macquarie, the Australian banking group, and Hochtief, the German infrastructure investor, have all said they might bid.
BAA has said it had “no intention” of selling Heathrow. The final decision on the company’s future will be made next April.