Losses triple at BAA as its traffic drops

AIRPORT operator BAA yesterday said losses at its London airports had more than tripled to &pound;545.7m in the first half of the year.<br /><br />Exceptional items pushed the company into the red, but BAA said its underlying earnings were up 28 per cent to &pound;469.9m.<br /><br />The airport operator took a hit from finance costs linked to its &pound;9.7bn debt pile and a &pound;218.5m payment needed to fill its pension deficit.<br /><br />It also took writedowns of around &pound;290m on the value of some of its assets, including its ageing terminals at Heathrow.<br /><br />Revenues at the firm, owned by infrastructure group Ferrovial, increased 12.8 per cent to &pound;1.1bn in the period, despite passenger numbers plummeting 7.4 per cent to 55.2m.<br /><br />Despite its woes, BAA warned that it would not be pushed into a sale of Gatwick at a depressed price. The Competition Commission has told the firm to sell off Gatwick, Stansted and either Edinburgh or Glasgow.<br /><br />Meanwhile, British Airways said yesterday will scrap all of its meals &ndash; apart from breakfast &ndash; on short haul flights, in a bid to save &pound;22m a year.<br /><br />Passengers on flights that last less than two-and-a-half hours will only get snacks and a drink and will be unable to buy meals or sandwiches, although those flying before 10am will still get breakfast.<br /><br />The measure, which starts next week, comes after the airline lost a record &pound;400m last year.