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BAA takes £24m snow hit

(SHARECAST) – UK airport owner BAA has estimated the snow disruption in December cost it £24m and reduced the number of passengers flying by nearly 11 percent.

BAA, controlled by Spanish firm Ferrovial, has been fiercely criticised for the performance of its airports during the bitter weather. Heathrow, the UK’s main airport, was shut for four days.

Passenger numbers at Heathrow fell by 9.5 percent in December compared with the same period in 2009. The airport lost £19m in profit, two-fifths of which attributed to extra staff and costs of accommodating stranded passengers.

User numbers at other BAA airports were also badly hit, with Southampton down 22 percent and Edinburgh down 18.4 percent. Stansted lost £1m after traveller numbers fell 10.9 percent.

For the year, total passenger numbers across all of BAA’s airports fell by 2.8 percent to 103.9 million.

“The year was marked by a series of exceptional events. Apart from severe weather late in the year, there were the effects of two extended periods of BA strikes and the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud,” BAA said, adding passenger numbers would have grown by 0.6 percent over the year without theses exceptional events.

Chief executive Colin Matthew said the airports group was sorry for the flights that had to be cancelled as a result of the snow.

“The cost of any disruption to BAA’s airports is significant and a strong financial incentive for us to continue to make Heathrow more resilient,” he added.

A number or airlines are considering legal action against BAA because of the snow disruption. Virgin Atlantic has decided not to pay landing fees until the results of an internal BAA inquiry into the disruption are published.

December’s snow cost British Airways about £50m in the third quarter and a little more at the start of the final three-month period.


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