BAA, owner of Heathrow and Stansted, reported a £249 million pre-tax loss in the six months to June ahead of a forced sale of its second-biggest airport - a £30 million improvement on last year.
However, BAA halved its losses after tax to £130 million, down from £260 million a year earlier, and reported record passenger numbers at Heathrow in April-June.
Passengers at Heathrow were up 9.1% by direct comparison with the first half of 2010, and 2.9% with the impact of the closure due to volcanic ash and strikes by British Airways cabin crew last year stripped out.
Stansted passenger numbers fell 0.2% year on year, but by 3.8% allowing for the ash shutdown.
A rise in European scheduled traffic was the biggest reason for the growth at Heathrow, but BAA also reported “a significant improvement” in North Atlantic traffic in the second quarter “driven by the success of British Airways’ and American Airlines’ joint transatlantic services launched in March.
BAA chief executive Colin Matthews said: “This is a strong financial performance.” He added: “Heathrow has achieved some of its best-ever levels of flight punctuality and baggage delivery.”
The Competition Commission confirmed its earlier decision to order BAA to sell Stansted last week. BAA, which is owned by Spanish group Ferrovial, said it is considering seeking a judicial review of the decision.
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