NEWCASTLE Airport bosses remained tight-lipped last night amid speculation that the whole of the site could be put up for sale.
Copenhagen Airports, which owns 49% of the airport, has put its stake on the market following a decision by its backers, Australian group Macquarie Bank, to withdraw from the sector.
Claims that the remaining 51% – which is owned by the seven local authorities in Northumberland, Durham and Tyne and Wear – has also been put up for sale were denied by council sources last night.
Newcastle Airport refused to comment on the reports and a spokeswoman for South Tyneside council, which acts as the lead authority for the local authorities, said: “We do not wish to comment on this market speculation.”
Bosses in the North East have a veto over the sale of the Copenhagen stake, and are expected to be able to confirm which body the 49% shareholding is sold to.
The airport recorded a drop in profits to £13.8m for 2009, compared with £19.4m for the previous year.
It is feared that without a new equity investor putting in cash into the business council bosses will have to sell their own stake. So far councils chiefs have refused to consider such a sale.
The sale of Copenhagen’s stake is unlikely to lead to any significant changes to the running of the airport.