LONDON Nov 19 Travel groups Thomas Cook
, TUI Travel, Deutsche Lufthansa and
Virgin Atlantic have agreed to sell the majority of their stakes
in The Airline Group, which owns a large share in Britain's
National Air Traffic Services (NATS).
The four firms, along with British Airways, easyJet
, Airline Company Limited and the retirement plan of
Monarch Airlines, jointly owned a 41.9 percent share in NATS
through their stakeholdings in The Airline Group.
Thomas Cook and TUI Travel said in separate statements on
Tuesday that they had each agreed to sell the majority of their
interests for 38 million pounds ($61.2 million) to British
pension fund Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).
They said Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Virgin Atlantic had also
agreed to sell the majority of their stakes on the same terms
and at the same time. The combined shareholding being sold to
USS represents a non-controlling stake of 49.9 percent in the
The Airline Group.
Each seller would retain a small proportion of their
holding, while British Airways, easyJet, Airline Company Limited
and the retirement plan of Monarch Airlines will not be selling
NATS, which handles around 5,300 flight movements a day, is
49 percent owned by the British government which had previously
mulled the sale of part of its stake before deciding against it
due to its strategic importance.
The companies said they expect to complete the deals during
the first quarter of 2014, which are subject to clearance from
the European Commission.