Chinese group to develop British airport


BEIJING–Chinese construction giant Beijing Construction Engineering Group (BCEG) has signed a deal with British firms to develop a business district around Manchester airport, the companies involved in the project announced Sunday. The development of Britain’s third busiest airport — described as one of the largest construction projects in the United Kingdom since the 2012 London Olympics — will cost 800 million pounds (US$1.27 billion).

MAG, the operator of Manchester airport; GMPF, a pension fund based in the city; and the British construction group Carillion will work alongside BCEG in the joint project, a statement released by the companies said. A breakdown of each company’s investment in the business district, dubbed “Airport City,” was not given in the statement.

British finance minister George Osborne, who is currently on a trip to China hoping to boost trade ties between the two nations, wrote on his verified Twitter account that the development is “one of the largest” in Britain since the Olympics and would eventually create 16,000 jobs for the region. Once built, “Airport City” will take up five million square feet (460,000 square meters) and will boast a mix of offices, hotels, advanced manufacturing firms, logistics and warehousing, the statement said. Manchester Airport is currently used by over 20 million passengers annually. The city and surrounding North West region contains 6.5 million people, eight percent of the UK’s population.

The deal comes at a time when Britain is seeking to boost trade with the world’s second largest economy, with both nations agreeing in 2010 to double their trade to US$100 billion by 2015.

“We see our involvement in Airport City as an extension of the memorandum of understanding between China and the UK, where we have been looking to further explore joint infrastructure opportunities for some time,” said Xing Yan, Managing Director of BCEG. Charlie Cornish, Chief Executive of MAG, added: “The inclusion of BCEG is significant because as a Group, we have been keen to forge greater links with the Far East and this gives us an opportunity to strengthen vital business links with China.” Earlier this month a Chinese investment firm announced plans to resurrect London’s Crystal Palace, once the largest glass structure in the world and the venue for the 1851 Great Exhibition, in a deal worth US$800 million.