BAA profits up as Heathrow claims record traffic

Airports operator BAA has delivered results for Heathrow and Stansted showing EBITDA (profit before tax and other costs) up by 17.1% in 2011 to £1.1 billion.

Passenger numbers increased 3.7% to 87.4 million, with Heathrow’s traffic up 5.5% to an all-time record of 69.4 million passengers.

Heathrow’s growth was particularly strong with countries such as the US, Germany, Switzerland, France and Brazil.

But the London hub’s domestic traffic lagged the airport’s overall performance, declining 2.9% to 4.7 million passengers, largely reflecting BMI pulling off the Glasgow route.

Traffic at Stansted, which BAA is being forced to sell by the Competition Commission, fell by 2.8% to 18 million passengers.

Much of the decline was in domestic carryings which dropped by 15.8%, mainly due to services to Belfast and Newcastle being dropped from Stansted.

Chief executive Colin Matthews said: “Last year saw Heathrow’s best punctuality performance in over a decade and the international Airport Service Quality passenger survey showed that 70% of Heathrow’s passengers rated their experience as ‘Excellent’ or ‘Very Good’, compared with just 41% when the Ferrovial-led consortium bought BAA in 2006.

“We continued to invest significantly in further improving our airports during 2011, particularly on the new Heathrow Terminal 2.

“The group’s financial position has been strengthened with £3 billion in new financing completed in the last 12 months and we have fully repaid our £4.4 billion bank bridge loan nearly two years early.”

He added: “We are pleased that the UK government recognised the importance of a successful hub airport to UK economic growth in its autumn statement.

“All potential solutions to the UK’s lack of hub airport capacity have their pros and cons and all should be on the table to ensure the right solution is found for both the short and long term.”

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