Heathrow and Stansted lose 2m passengers

A two million drop in passengers using Heathrow and Stansted has been recorded by airports operator BAA for the first nine months of the year.

The impact on turnover of the Icelandic ash cloud disruption and British Airways cabins crew strikes is estimated at £38 million, according to BAA, reporting figures for the two London airports.

The company estimated that it lost 2.2 million passengers in April and May due to the combined impact of the ash cloud and BA industrial action.

Combined passenger numbers declined by 2.1% to 64 million at the two airports in the nine months. Heathrow traffic declined by 0.6% to 49.6 million and Stansted saw passengers numbers drop by 7% to 14.4 million.

However, overall passenger numbers at BAA’s London airports showed underlying growth of 1.3% in the period with a 3.1% rise at Heathrow.

The pre-tax loss was sharply reduced to £192.6 million from £784 million for the same nine months last year due to lower exceptional items and value adjustments.

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation [EBITDA] rose by 8.4%% to £719 million.

Adjusted EBITDA for the full year is expected to “at least match” the £956 million given in guidance in December 2009 despite the impact of ash and BA strikes, the company said.  

Long haul travel to emerging markets and European scheduled traffic continued to outperform other areas while North Atlantic traffic improved in the third quarter, the company said.

BAA chief executive Colin Matthews said: “BAA has delivered good results and we have strengthened our financial position through refinancing of nearly £2 billion of debt.

“Passenger growth at Heathrow is encouraging and improving customer service has contributed to strong commercial revenue.
“The outlook for the remaining months of the year is positive and we will continue to focus on raising customer service standards.”

The company said it had “experienced increasingly robust passenger traffic and this trend has continued since the end of the third quarter”.

  • BAA confirmed it would appeal to the Supreme Court against the Court of Appeal upholding the Competition Commission’s recommendation that the company should dispose of Stansted and either Glasgow or Edinburgh airport. The result of the application to the Supreme Court is expected later this year or early in 2011.


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