Manchester Airport’s New U.S. Arm Bids for Oakland, Denver Deals

Manchester Airports Group said its newly created U.S. unit is making major strides after winning a contract in Minnesota and submitting bids in two other states as it seeks to tap into public spending on terminal facilities.

MAG USA has been selected to build and run a premium lounge in Minneapolis and has submitted a tender for another in Oakland, California, Chief Executive Officer Charlie Cornish said. It has also been shortlisted to redevelop a terminal at Denver International, the sixth-busiest hub in the U.S.

“It’s going to take two or three years before we get there but we’re already drawing on the experience we’ve had in upgrading our own terminals in Manchester and at East Midlands and London Stansted,” Cornish said in an interview Wednesday.

MAG established the U.S. arm in May, saying it would seek to leverage the group’s expertize in retail programs, terminal redevelopment, passenger lounges and car parks amid a trend toward outsourcing at the nation’s largely state-owned airports.

The business, run by Rosie Andolin, who previously worked in City of Chicago posts including executive director of the O’Hare airport modernization plan, marks a first foray abroad.

The Minneapolis and Oakland tenders are for what MAG calls Escape Lounges, where travelers lacking access to airline loyalty clubs can pay to “escape to a tranquil environment.”

The Denver project involves refurbishing the Great Hall at the main Jeppesen Terminal, with bidders asked to switch more space to retail use and devise a public-private financing plan. Security areas and airline counters will need to be moved.

Denver International opened in 1995 and is the largest hub in the U.S. by land area. The facility, recognizable from the peaked roof of the Jeppesen Terminal that echoes the distant Rockies, is a major base for United Airlines and Southwest Airlines Co. and handled more than 53 million people in 2014.

MAG increased earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization 17 percent to 284 million pounds ($442 million) in the year ended March 31 as passenger numbers rose 10 percent to 48.5 million. Manchester, Britain’s No. 3 hub with 22 million passengers, is spending $1.5 billion to target long-haul fliers, while Stansted, on 21 million, wants to end a capacity cap.

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