France sells 49% stake in Toulouse airport to Chinese consortium

French economy minister Emmanuel Macron has announced that the government will be selling a 49.9% stake in Toulouse-Blagnac Airport to a Chinese consortium, in order to increase international air links in the south of France.

Paris announced last week that it has decided to sell its €308m ($381m) stake in the company that manages the airport to the Symbiose consortium, which comprises Chinese state-owned group Shandong Hi-Speed Group and Hong Kong-based investment firm Friedmann Pacific Asset Management.

"That the airport was not being privatised as the state would still retain a 10.01% stake along with local authorities, which would make them majority owners."

The Symbiose consortium also includes an aircraft leasing company already among Airbus' clients.

Macron said in an interview with local daily newspaper La Depeche du Midi that the airport was not being privatised as the state would still retain a 10.01% stake along with local authorities, which would make them majority owners.

Toulouse-Blagnac Airport is the fourth largest airport in France and is used by European aerospace giant Airbus, which is headquartered nearby to test and assemble planes.

The airport is located about 6.7km west north-west of Toulouse and served around 7,559,350 passengers in 2012.

The finance ministry announced in a statement said that the consortium had promised to take into account the long-term interests of Airbus. The statement also clarified that the government was not selling any of the airport's infrastructure such as its buildings or runways, which will remain property of the state.

The airport plans to increase its current traffic of 7.5 million passengers to 18 million by 2030.