GLOBAL - A UK airport part-owned by the CA$96.4bn (€74bn) Ontario Teachers Pension Plan has won promises of more than €50m in short-term funding for an ongoing expansion programme.

Birmingham International Airport secured a £45m (€53.6m) revolving credit facility from Santander and RBS for a growth strategy that includes a £30m project to merge its two terminals.

The regional airport also has medium-term plans to extend its runway in a move that will allow it to operate flights to more destinations.

The Ontario pension scheme co-owns 48.2% of the airport with an Australian fund manager through Airport Group Investments, a company listed in the Channel Islands. 

Local authorities own just under half of the airport, with 2.75% held by airport staff through an employee share trust.

A spokeswoman for the airport declined to confirm whether it had initially approached the Ontario scheme for financing, saying only that bank finance was "a very flexible supplement to the existing finance sources".

Despite infrastructure's appeal to pension funds as a long-term inflation hedge, the airport's most recent report predicted weakening future demand as a result of the current economic downturn and an increase in the competitive threat from neighbouring regional airports.

However, its management said a short-term risk of decline in passenger numbers and falling aeronautical yields would give way in the medium term to a strong recovery.

The airport is due to undertake a review of its direct benefit pension scheme, which, although closed to new members, remains open for future service accrual.