Gatwick airport sale hits BAA

| October 28, 2009 | 0 Comments

UK airports operator BAA has reported a pre-tax loss of £784.7 million for the first nine months of the year, compared with a £519 million loss a year earlier.

The group said it had lost £225 million on Gatwick Airport, which it confirmed it had sold last week for £1.51 billion. However, today BAA said that it had valued the airport for accounting purposes at £1.735 billion.

BAA sold the UK’s second largest airport to Global Infrastructure Partners after it was ordered to sell the airport after a Competition Commission inquiry established that there was a lack of competition between airports.

The commission also ruled it had to sell Stansted and either Glasgow or Edinburgh airports, but is appealing against the decision.

BAA said it would use the proceeds of the sale to pay down its £10 billion debt burden, including £1 billion of borrowings that fall due next March. According to one analyst, BAA’s debt arises from the building of Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport, as well as the current renovation at Terminal 2.

BAA chief executive, Colin Matthews, said: “We are pleased to have agreed the sale of Gatwick Airport and our focus for the rest of the year is on improving efficiency and service standards for our customers, and further reducing costs.”

Meanwhile, BAA said passenger numbers were down 2.3% at Heathrow, 7.2% at Gatwick and 12% at Stansted, as a result of the economic downturn.

BAA, which is owned by Spain’s Ferrovial, makes money from charging landing fees and is the operator of six British airports.

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