Saturday 25 May 2019

NAMA's Weston airport starting to turn around as buyer sought

Emmet Oliver

The only airport on NAMA's books, the Weston Aerodrome, once owned by developer Jim Mansfield, has started to stabilise financially with rising traffic and expansion plans as receiver KPMG seeks a buyer.

The airport, which hosts pilot training and executive jet facilities, recently appointed a new board and hopes to grow employment from about 120 now to 200 in the medium term.

The airport is also seeking to retain planning for pilot education facilities and simulators.

NAMA put the airport (pictured) on its website for potential purchasers several weeks ago, garnering international headlines. The airport is being operated by Premier Aviation on behalf of KPMG, which is in turn working for NAMA.

Aviation traffic has greatly increased at the airport since May, Premier Aviation told customers in a information update.

In the update, Premier Aviation's John McCallion said the airport was on track to increase the workforce at Weston executive airport to 200 people in the medium to long term.

The airport is also planning to offer an executive VIP and crew lounge area in the near future.

The airport has also had additional queries in relation to private jets taking up hangar space there.

Mr McCallion said the airport was now self-sustaining and the mandate was to make sure it stayed a going concern.

"We are already seeing the fruits of our efforts as new tenants seek facilities here. Aviation traffic has greatly increased since May,'' Mr McCallion said in the update.

On April 20, NAMA seized the last of the major assets in developer Mr Mansfield's property empire.

Apart from Weston airport, also seized were six of his apartment blocks at Citywest and his Palmerstown House Estate, which includes a championship golf course.

It is understood that Mr Mansfield owed NAMA "tens of millions" on the assets.

The loss of Weston airport dealt a particular blow to Mr Mansfield, who had battled local objections to turn the airport into a location for executive jets and flight training.

Mr Mansfield had the main part of his empire, the Citywest complex, placed into receivership in 2010. Bank of Scotland (Ireland) took the step in order to recover €170m loaned to two companies.

Irish Independent

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