20 October 1998

Go-Ahead moves into air services

Go-Ahead, the bus and rail operator, yesterday diversified into the airports market when it paid 27.5m cash for airport services company GHI.

GHI, which is co-owned by American groups Northwest Airlines and Delta Airlines, provides cargo and passenger-handling services to British and German airports. Go-Ahead is also assuming GHI's 9.3m debts.

Martin Ballinger, Go-Ahead's managing director, said: "The acquisition of GHI represents an excellent first step in our aim to develop a third business sector. Airport services has seen 5pc growth year-on-year." GHI provides cargo-handling services at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Manchester airports, and Frankfurt overseas. GHI also has a joint-venture with Virgin Aviation Services, called Plane Handling.

GHI reported operating profits of 2.6m last year on sales of 50.4m. Net assets at the end of last year were 5.8m.

Asked if Go-Ahead intended to follow National Express, Stagecoach and FirstGroup into buying airports, Mr Ballinger said: "Jolly good luck to them but we are not into buying concrete. Services are our business."