Farnborough, the UK’s only dedicated business aviation airport, has been sold to Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA) for an undisclosed sum. The investment firm – which already has interests in Southampton Airport – acquired the facility from TAG, which has run the site since 2001.
Dubbed the ‘birthplace of British aviation’, Farnborough was the site of the country’s first powered flight in 1908. Since then, it has become a hub for business aviation and handles more than 30,000 air traffic movements each year, in part because of its responsibility to provide a lower airspace radar service (LARS) in the London area.
Leigh Harrison, head of MIRA EMEA, said: “In addition to holding an important place in UK aviation history, the airport is known for its high-quality offering to customers. Drawing on our extensive experience managing airport infrastructure around the world, we look forward to partnering with Farnborough Airport to ensure it remains an important contributor to the local economy and a business aviation gateway to London and the South East.”
MIRA, which owns the US-based FBO group Atlantic Aviation, also manages funds which are invested in 12 commercial airports across Europe and Australia.
Brandon O’Reilly, CEO of Farnborough Airport, highlighted the significant investment previous shareholders had made over the last two decades, adding: “With a number of development projects already under way, we are excited to partner with Macquarie to further develop our offering to the business aviation market.”
The change of ownership comes at a time when the site has faced a backlash from campaigners over its airspace change proposal, which would see the expansion of controlled airspace around the Hampshire facility. The British Gliding Association said the sale “raised serious questions about TAG Farnborough’s motivation to seek controlled airspace”.