Airport operator BAA says it believes struggling Stansted will rebound strongly when the UK economy recovers, as it waits to hear whether its appeal against the forced sale of its second London airport is successful.
The airport’s traffic has continued to decline this year, although BAA’s major airport Heathrow has broken new records and gained markedly improved passenger satisfaction scores.
Colin Matthews, BAA’s chief executive, said Stansted’s news was disappointing and the airport would struggle “as long as the UK consumer is not confident”. He added: “Heathrow is a barometer of global economic activity, Stansted is a barometer of UK consumer spending.”
However, he said: “It’s the only London airport with significant capacity to grow so when the UK consumer is confident again, we’ll see growth quicker there than anywhere else.”
The Competition Commission ordered BAA to sell Stansted along with Gatwick and one of its Scottish airports back in 2009. While the latter two sales have been achieved, BAA has consistently fought the ruling to sell Stansted. The competition appeals tribunal dismissed its claims again but the operator was given leave to take its case to the court of appeal. The judgment from that court is expected on Thursday.
Matthews said: “If someone told you you needed to sell your house by a fixed date you’d be anxious. It’s unwelcome for us. We’ll see the outcome of the appeal tomorrow. But in any event the fact of a deadline is uncomfortable for us.”
Meanwhile, passenger growth continued at Heathrow to record levels, up 2.2% in the first six months of 2012 – despite the airport being at its limit for flight numbers – thanks to fuller and bigger planes.
The Airport Service Quality scores for passenger satisfaction at the airport had risen solidly again, turning the airport around since 2007 in relation to rival hubs, Matthews said. An 8.4% rise in revenue was helping to fund a capital investment of £100m a day. Matthews claimed that there was no bigger current private sector investment in infrastructure at the moment.
Pre-tax losses dropped to £50.9m, down from £249.2m a year ago, reflecting gains on valuations of derivatives.
Thursday will be a crucial day for BAA, with the biggest ever daily influx of visitors at Heathrow expected and the outcome of the Stansted decision.
Passengers using Stansted over past years:
Numbers were down 24% in 2011, compared to the peak in 2007.
BAA figures for passengers, air traffic movements and air freight tonnages at Stansted. BAA press releases
Figures of passengers, Air Transport Movements and Cargo at Stansted recently :
BAA figures for Stansted for June 2012
Source: BAA press release for more details (June 2012 compared to June 2011)
Terminal Passengers: down – 3.4% in June 2012 to 1,629,900 passengers approx
BAA figures for Stansted for May 2012
Source: BAA press release for more details (May 2012 compared to May 2011)
Terminal Passengers: down – 5.5% in May 2012 to 1,544,800 passengers approx
BAA figures for Stansted for April 2012
Source: BAA press release for more details (Apr 2012 compared to Apr 2011)
Terminal Passengers: down – 2.7% in Apr 2012 to 1,512,400 passengers approx
BAA figures for Stansted for March 2012
Source: BAA press release for more details (Mar 2012 compared to Mar 2011)
Terminal Passengers: down – 4.7% in Mar 2012 to 1,297,200 passengers approx
BAA figures for Stansted for February 2012
Source: BAA press release for more details (Feb 2012 compared to Feb 2011)
Terminal Passengers: down – 4.9% in Feb 2012 to 1,104,100 passengers approx
BAA figures for Stansted for January 2012
Source: BAA press release for more details (Jan 2012 compared to Jan 2011)
Terminal Passengers: down – 6.6% in Jan 2012 to 1,070,300 passengers approx
BAA figures for Stansted for all of 2011
Source: BAA press release for more details (Dec 2011 compared to Dec 2010)
Terminal Passengers: down – 2.8 % in Dec 2011 to 18,042,400 passengers approx