Las Vegas Executive Air Terminal Sold - Sunday 12th of June 2005

A rapidly expanding ground services provider for corporate and private aircraft has agreed to buy the Las Vegas Executive Air Terminal for approximately $60.4 million.

New York-based Macquarie Infrastructure Co. on Tuesday said it will take control of the terminal in early fall, pending regulatory approval.

In a statement, Chief Executive Officer Peter Stokes said the Las Vegas area's fast-growing economy and recent improvements at the terminal fueled his company's interest in the deal.

"Las Vegas Executive Air Terminal meets (the company's) investment criteria and supports our strategy to acquire established businesses that will produce attractive, risk-adjusted returns and sustainable yields to our investors," Stokes said.

Recent traffic totals support Stokes' optimism.

Last year, the Las Vegas Executive Air Terminal handled 323,979 arriving and departing passengers, a 15.8 percent increase from 2003, Clark County Aviation Department data show.

Through April, traffic here was up 16.1 percent from the first four months of 2004 with nearly 113,000 passengers.

Although he's not convinced private jet use will grow in every market, Ray Neidl, an aviation analyst with Calyon Securities, said Tuesday that Las Vegas should handle more small-aircraft operations in the years to come.

"The casinos will always want to bring in their high rollers, more so now from overseas, and Las Vegas still doesn't have a large supply of scheduled international air service," Neidl said. "And the big names like Bill Gates who come in for conventions would definitely have a market for" private jet facilities near the Strip.

Las Vegas Executive is one of two privately controlled terminals, or "fixed base operations," at McCarran International Airport, the nation's sixth-busiest passenger airport.

But unlike McCarran's main facility, Las Vegas Executive and its nearby rival, Signature Flight Support, cater almost exclusively to private and corporate jet operators offering services ranging from fuel and hangar space to on-call maintenance teams and flight crew lounges.

Las Vegas-based Eagle Aviation Resources owns Las Vegas Executive, at 275 E. Tropicana Ave. near Koval Lane.

Reached Tuesday, General Manager Liz Ambrogio declined comment, though a source said the approximately 140 people who work at Las Vegas Executive are uncertain how the sale would affect their jobs.

A Macquarie Infrastructure Co. spokesman said Stokes would not comment further on the deal or his company's Las Vegas plans until its proposed purchase is approved by the Clark County Aviation Department.

Management expects the deal to close before Sept. 30.

Sale plans call for a $58 million purchase price, as well as a tentative $2.4 million payment to cover associated transaction costs and other related expenses. Macquarie Infrastructure Co. was formed as a public company in December and plans to use cash raised through its initial public offering to cover the initial costs of its Las Vegas acquisition.

Previously, Sydney, Australia-based Macquarie Bank Ltd. was the parent of AvPorts, a long-standing airport operator and aviation services provider with contracts at six U.S. sites including Pittsburgh International Airport and Manhattan's East 34th Street heliport near the United Nations.

In May 2004, Macquarie Bank reached a deal to buy Dallas-based Executive Air Support, whose Atlantic Aviation Services subsidiary included 10 fixed base operations including Philadelphia International and Chicago's Midway Airport. Despite the change in ownership, Atlantic Aviation operates independently of its sister AvPorts division.

Macquarie Infrastructure Co. more recently made its West Coast debut when Atlantic Aviation in mid-January took over two Southern California fixed base operations at John Wayne Airport in Orange County and Palm Springs International Airport. The Las Vegas Executive Air Terminal would operate as the 13th location within its Atlantic Aviation division.

Macquarie Infrastructure Co. reported a loss of $83,000 on revenue of $65.7 million for its first quarter, which ended March 31. Its stock rose 38 cents, or 1.3 percent, Tuesday to close $29.30 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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