Heathrow boss warns European rivals at risk of overtaking it as it waits for expansion plans to take off

Rebecca Smith
The airport still grew at its fastest rate in five years though
The airport still grew at its fastest rate in five years though (Source: Heathrow)

While Heathrow racked up rising profits and revenue along with its fastest growth rate in five years, the airport's boss today warned of being overtaken by European rivals.

John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of the London airport, said: "Heathrow had a fantastic 2017 – welcoming a record 78m passengers, giving our best service ever and offering better value for our passengers with lower airport charges."

But while we are squeezing out small bits of growth, our rivals in France and Germany are overtaking us – for Britain to thrive post-Brexit, the government needs to crack on with Heathrow expansion as quickly as possible with a vote in parliament before the summer.

Read more: Here's how Stansted plans to bring in millions more passengers each year

Heathrow still brought in a record 78m passengers, a rise of 3.1 per cent on the year before, despite the airport's capacity headache as it eagerly awaits to expand. A vote on the government's third runway proposal will go before MPs in the summer.

The airport's revenues rose 2.7 per cent to £2.9bn, and adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) were up 4.6 per cent to £1.8bn, which Heathrow said was due to lower operating costs and strong retail growth.

Retail revenue per passenger rose by 4.5 per cent over the year.

Pre-tax profit though dropped by nearly a fifth to £217m.

Passenger charges, which have long been a contentious topic for airlines at the airport - particularly the prospect of them not staying the same after expansion - dropped by two per cent.

The government issued a long-awaited decision to back Heathrow expansion in October 2016, and MPs on the Transport Select Committee have been poring over the details for an inquiry on the government's airports national policy statement, ahead of the vote later this year.

The plans have stirred up concerns from a number of parties, including Heathrow's biggest customer British Airways. Willie Walsh, the boss of the airline's parent company IAG said he had "zero" confidence it would be delivered on time and on budget. Heathrow has said its expansion cost projections are "robust" and it will continue work to reduce costs further.

TfL meanwhile, has sounded the alarm over public transport crowding from expansion.

Read more: Heathrow hits back at rival's claim it "vetoed" cheaper expansion proposal

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