NEWCASTLE Airport’s multi-billion-pound shareholder has said Tyneside should look to the US for growth.
Earlier this year, AMP Capital took over as the new 49% shareholder at the airport, adding its support to the 51% stake held by the North East’s seven councils.
AMP is Australia’s largest insurance company, with AMP Capital spending $120bn in Australia, Europe and elsewhere on activities such as shopping centres, water firms and airports including Melborne.
In the UK, the firm has invested in Thames Water and waste utilities in Wales.
Boe Pahari, AMP’s head of infrastructure, told The Journal that the company was very much a long-term investor.
He added: “Newcastle has excellent potential, there are no other airports really within two hours’ drive.
“In the region the unemployment rate is falling, there is a lot here. We think we can bring in some expertise to support the other shareholders and the airport team, who are very strong already.
“It’s early days for us, but we are very upbeat about this. There are areas of development we can explore, obviously in terms of route expansion and the site itself.”
Asked if the US was an option, he said: “Everything is on the table, we want to explore that, yes.”
Coun Iain Malcolm, leader of South Tyneside Council and member of the main board at Newcastle Airport, has welcomed the new shareholder.
He said: “AMP Capital are one of the world’s most experienced global infrastructure managers. Not only do they share our ambition to grow the airport business, they possess the knowledge and expertise to help make it happen. We are delighted to have such an influential partner on board.
“We are passionate about our airport and it is no secret we’ve been working incredibly hard to secure a transatlantic route for a number of years now. The US is the world’s largest economy and is already the biggest single market for North East goods.
“A US connection would offer the region’s business community infinite possibilities for growth.
“A new service to the west would also complement the existing Emirates service to the east. If anyone is in any doubt about the contribution that Newcastle Airport makes to the regional economy, they need only look at what the daily Emirates service to Dubai has given us.”
Earlier this year the airport renegotiated its debt levels. A statement said a loan package totalling £218.5m left the airport with a debt of £178m after the refinance package.
It means that nearly £120m has been wiped out from the deficit, which previously stood at £298m.