China’s HNA Group, parent of Hainan Airlines, has been in talks with Manchester Airport on acquiring a majority stake in the airport and a deal may be announced during the first state visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping to the United Kingdom, which is taking place this week.
President Xi is accompanied by a 150-member business delegation, which includes CEOs and senior executives from various commercial sectors including finance, infrastructure, energy, automotive,
aviation and insurance.
Among the delegation members is Chen Feng, chairman of the HNA Group.
Another try by HNA for an airport acquisition
According to Chinese press reports an acquisition of Manchester Airport could be announced during the state visit, following earlier remarks by Chen Feng that the HNA Group will increase investment in European mergers and acquisitions.
In the past few months the HNA Group has made several major investments including a US$2.8 billion purchase in July of Swissport International Ltd., the ground services and cargo handling provider based in Zurich, from PAI Partners, while in September, Bohai Leasing (a unit of HNA Group) and Avolon Holdings Ltd. agreed a deal valued at US$7.6 billion to acquire a 100% stake of the aircraft lessor.
Upcoming PEK-MAN flights
Underlining the Hainan Group’s interest in Manchester Airport is the launch of a new A330-200 service between Beijing and Manchester by Hainan Airlines next summer. According to sources close to the airline, the Haikou-based carrier plans to operate the Beijing-Manchester service four times a week on Mondays. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays starting on June 10, 2016.
Nol van Fenema
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