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Airmall at Pittsburgh International sold to German firm

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By John D. Oravecz
Monday, Aug. 4, 2014, 1:18 p.m.

The Airmall complex at Pittsburgh International Airport has a new owner who hopes to use retail expertise built here and at three other East Coast airports to expand in the United States and abroad.

Fraport AG Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide of Germany acquired Airmall Inc. from Prospect Capital Corp., a New York-based investment firm, for an undisclosed price on Aug. 1.

Airmall Inc.'s headquarters will remain at Pittsburgh International, where it oversees similar airport food, beverage and concessions operations in Baltimore, Boston and Cleveland.

The four airports serve about 70 million passengers a year and have about 270 retail outlets.

“Airmall has developed a solid business, whereby investing makes good business sense,” said Fraport Chief Financial Officer Matthias Zieschang in a statement. “Airmall will give us a presence at these four airports for further expanding our brand reputation in the U.S. and in other parts of the world.”

The Pittsburgh Airmall was named the nation's best concessions program for a mid-sized airport by trade publication Airport Revenue News in 2013.

Airmall President Brandon Blaylock said there will be no immediate changes at the four airports.

Airmall is known for a policy that makes retail prices at its airports comparable with prices found at stores and restaurants away from airports — a departure from inflated prices found at many airports.

“We have a proven model, and those types of policies will remain in place for the time being,” Blaylock said. “Some of our contracts require that we have that policy.”

Airmall has a contract with the Allegheny County Airport Authority to operate concessions through 2029. It subleases space to 77 tenants, such as McDonald's and Harley Davidson, that employ 750 people.

Nothing in the transaction modifies Airmall's agreement at the airport, said James Gill, acting executive director of the airport authority.

Airmall itself has 29 employees at its Pittsburgh International headquarters.

Prospect Capital acquired Airmall Inc., then called BAA USA, for $50 million in August 2010. BAA USA had been owned by London-based BAA Limited, owner of airports in the United Kingdom.

Sales by tenants at the Pittsburgh Airmall slumped after US Airways dropped the airport as a hub a decade ago but have remained consistent during the past five years.

In June, Airmall said sales by tenants totaled $56 million last year, up 2.2 percent from 2012. Sales reached $90 million in 2001 when 20 million passengers used the airport. Last year, about 7.85 million passengers did.

John D. Oravecz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7882 or

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