A majority stake in Gatwick Airport is to be sold to French operator Vinci Airports for £2.9bn.
Vinci Airports, part of infrastructure group Vinci, will buy 50.01% of the UK’s second-busiest airport.
The other 49.99% will be managed by current owners Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP).
The airport was closed in the run-up to Christmas after reports of drone sightings, in what is thought to be the most disruptive incident of its kind.
Flights were grounded and about 140,000 passengers affected over three days during the incident.
In 2016, Gatwick’s expansion plans were dealt a blow when the government rejected its proposal for a new second runway while giving the go-ahead for Heathrow to build a third runway.
Gatwick was acquired by a GIP-led consortium in 2009.
More than 45 million passengers travel through Gatwick each year, flying to 230 destinations in 70 countries, according to its website.
The deal would make Gatwick the largest airport in Vinci’s network.
US-based GIP said it expects the transaction to be completed “by the middle of next year”, with the senior leadership team remaining in place.