A Islamic Banks agrees to fund the bulk of airport expansion

AN ISLAMIC bank will provide more than £19 million towards the expansion of Southend Airport.

The Bank of London and the Middle East announced yesterday it would loan £19.1million in development finance to the Stobart Group, which owns the airport.

It comes two days after the Government announced it had given final approval to the decisions made by Southend Council and Rochford District Council to allow the runway extension to go ahead.

The 300m runway extension is the key part of the £35million development of the airport, which was bought by Stobart in December 2008.

The loan – about two-thirds of the total cost of the transformation – will fund some of the work, including the diversion of East-woodbury Crescent, and the building of a new £12million rail station.

Alastair Welch, managing director of the airport, said: “This announcement is part of our plan to ensure the Stobart group is well funded and, more specifically for us, to ensure the airport’s potential is realised.”

The bank said its funding would help develop the airport as a distribution gateway as well as opening up new European routes to increase passenger numbers from 42,000 to 2 million by 2020.

Based in the City of London, the Bank of London and the Middle East describes itself as the biggest Islamic bank in Europe and London’s leading bank which is compliant with Islamic Sharia law.

Humphrey Percy, the bank’s chief executive, said: “Eddie Stobart is an iconic, well-established UK brand with a strong track record, and represents an ideal candidate for our corporate banking services, both now and in the future.

“The core objectives of Stobart group correspond with the principles of the bank – transparency, partnership and service.

“Stobart is growing and expanding, and the bank is looking for innovative market leaders such as the Stobart Group to develop with.”

Ben Whawell, chief finance officer of the Stobart group, said he was “delighted to partner with the bank for the further development of London Southend Airport, enhancing its position as the eastern gateway to London.”

He added: “We look forward to seeing the completion of this exciting project that, in addition to servicing the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, will have a long-term beneficial impact.”

Stobart aims to open the runway and terminal in 2011 and the station, on the London Liverpool Street line, this summer.

source : southendstandard