Heathrow Airport narrows its losses after selling off Stansted

Marion Dakers
HEATHROW Airport narrowed its losses in the first quarter of the year, helped by gains from the sale of Stansted and a hike in airline fees.

The company yesterday posted losses of £196m, compared to £232m a year ago, on revenues 6.1 per cent higher at £520m in the quarter.

Airline fees and other aeronautical income rose 11.9 per cent to £301m, reflecting a 12.7 per cent increase in tariffs last April.

Turnover from the airport’s shops, car parking and cafes increased 2.9 per cent to £107m.

Employment costs rose more than 17 per cent to £101m, following a pension restructuring and one-off cost cutting measures.

The airport missed its target for getting passengers through security promptly in the first three months of the year. Just 93 per cent of travellers cleared security within five minutes, down from 96 per cent last year and falling short of Heathrow’s goal of 95 per cent.

While Heathrow is effectively full and cannot handle more flights, the use of larger aircraft and fuller planes helped push passenger numbers up 1.8 per cent to 16m in the quarter.

Seventy-six per cent of planes took off within 15 minutes of their planned departure slot, down from 81 per cent last year, which the airport blamed on the snow and freezing temperatures seen at the start of the year.

Net debt narrowed 6.6 per cent to £11.3bn, in part due to the group’s sale of Stansted Airport in February for £1.5bn. The group also booked a £279m gain for its Stansted deal.

“Heathrow performed strongly in the first quarter, with record passenger service scores and record financial performance,” said boss Colin Matthews.

“Strong cash flow is an important element in funding major current and future investment to improve Heathrow still further.”