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Welsh Developers To Buy Northern Ireland’s Main Airport

July 18, 1996

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) _ Shrugging aside Northern Ireland’s return to violence, a Welsh property developer agreed Thursday to buy Belfast International Airport for $112 million.

Although it is a potential terrorist target, the airport has been growing rapidly and the current owners are selling out for double what they paid the British government two years ago.

Keith Brooks, chief executive of Cardiff-based TBI PLC said he was not worried about the chronic instability in the British-ruled province.

The airport has an ``impressive profits history″ _ earning $12.8 million last year _ and traffic is growing, Brooks said.

``We’ve been tracking Belfast’s performance for a year,″ he said. ``The fact is that in strife and in good times alike, the passenger traffic just keeps going up _ 80 percent in the last decade.″

The airport sees plenty of business from the London-Belfast route, the busiest in the United Kingdom, and traffic from elsewhere has also been growing.

Lying among farm fields 10 miles west of town, the airport handled 2.4 million passengers in the fiscal year ended April 1996, up from 2.1 million the previous year.

The cease-fires declared by the Irish Republican Army and pro-British paramilitary groups in 1994 attracted several new carriers to the airport, until then served mainly by British Airways and British Midland.

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