BAA earnings rise fuelled by Heathrow

BAA reported a 17 per cent rise in earnings in the first nine months of the year, helped by strong traffic growth, especially at London's Heathrow airport.

BAA, majority owned by Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial, said adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose to £842.2m in the nine months to the end of September on revenues 10.2 per cent higher at £1.7bn.

BAA, which owns London's Heathrow – Europe's busiest airport – as well as Southampton and Stansted in England and Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports in Scotland, said passenger traffic at its airports rose 4.3 per cent during the period, with Heathrow traffic up 6.1 percent.

The airport operator has, in recent months, reported a steady rise in long-haul business traffic, especially to emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil, and said growth in U.S. traffic had also helped. It added that the outlook was positive despite tough economic conditions.

"Prospects for continued strong growth in adjusted EBITDA in 2012 are supported by the tariff increases taking effect from April 1, 2012," the company said in a statement, adding that it expected 2011 EBITDA to come in line with its expectations at around 1.124 billion pounds.

BAA last week put Edinburgh airport up for sale, bowing to a UK watchdog's order to sell a Scottish airport in order to pave the way for better competition.

After a two-year battle with BAA over whether it exerted a dominant hold on British airports, the UK's Competition Commission told BAA earlier this month that it must sell one of its Scottish airports before it disposes of London Stansted airport.

BAA said a judicial review of the UK competition watchdog's ruling requiring it to sell off Stansted would take place in December 2011.