Losses rise – but retail strong

By Administrator |

BAA has reported a 12.8% increase in revenues to ?1.154bn ($1.897bn) in its first six-month trading period ending June 30, but also a pre-tax loss of ?546m ($897m) representing a 303% decline on the result

last year. However, the UK airports company also pointed to a very strong retail performance at Heathrow, alongside that of airside and landside shops across all of the group's seven airports.

BAA – which is majority owned by Spanish company Ferrovial – reported a 7.4% overall decline to 4.4m passengers using its key London airports of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted over the period, while total passenger numbers for the group ended the period at 55.2m – down from 59.6m in the comparative period in 2008.

Net retail income (NRI) increased by 7.3% to ?4.72 ($7.59) compared with ?4.39 ($7.21) in the first six months of 2008 and BAA said that this was based on gross retail income of ?285.3m ($469m) compared with ?280.6m ($461m) in the comparative 2008 period. At Heathrow, NRI per passenger increased by 11.1% to ?5.08 ($8.35) or by 9.1% to ?4.99 ($8.20) after adjusting for ?2.9m ($4.7m) of non-recurring income.

Referring to Heathrow, BAA said: ‘Its performance was driven by in-terminal shopping, reflecting increased passenger numbers benefiting from Terminal 5's high quality retail facilities, and a higher proportion of intra-terminal transfer passengers, providing longer departure lounge dwell times for such passengers. It also reflects the improved value of the offer resulting from the depreciation of sterling.

‘NRI per passenger also increased at Gatwick, up 2.1% to ?4.53 ($7.44) with strength in airside specialist shops and duty and tax free more than offsetting weakness in car parking. At Stansted, NRI per passenger declined 0.3% to ?3.79 ($6.22) with significant growth in airside specialist shops and duty and tax free offset by weakness in car parking and bureaux de change.

BAA Ceo Colin Matthews said: ‘BAA's underlying financial performance remains in line with our expectations. I am particularly pleased that Heathrow continues to show its resilience, but trading conditions for the industry remain difficult.’

Of the three London airports, Heathrow is holding up best in terms of traffic. More than 31.2m travellers used the hub between January and June, only 3.9% fewer than in the same period the year before. But passenger numbers at Stansted fell by 14.4%, or 1.6m as its main airlines, Ryanair and easyJet, cut capacity to cope with the recession.

The long-haul market continued to outperform the overall market with traffic down 6% to 19.9m, although markets such as India (+5.8%) and the Middle East (+5.6%) continued to grow despite the adverse economic conditions. European passenger traffic declined 7.8% to 30.2m with continued weakness in the charter market, but some recent signs of moderating year-on-year declines in scheduled traffic.

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