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BORROWING RULES TO BE EASED FOR FOUR REGIONAL AIRPORTS

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The government is to clear the way for a wave of new investment in four of Britain's biggest regional airports by a...
The government is to clear the way for a wave of new investment in four of Britain's biggest regional airports by announcing that borrowing restrictions for the airports' local authority owners will be removed.

The Financial Times (p9) reports that the restrictions will be removed on the council owners of Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich and Leeds/Bradford aiports.

John Reid, the transport minister, is due to announce the move today, which will mean local authority borrowing for airport development will not be subject to treasury controls. The lending would instead be based on the strength of the airport's own balance sheet.

Ministers believe the new rules will allow the public sector airports to compete on a level playing field with those in the private sector, while safeguarding the interest of the taxpayer.

Manchester hopes the increased access to private capital will allow it to overtake Gatwick to become Britain's second largest airport. In seven years the airport predicts it will almost double its passenger numbers from 16.2 million last year to 30 million, making it the fifth largest in Europe.
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