Heathrow Reveals £46.5m Profit, Including Stansted Sale, But Warns Of Capacity Problems

Heathrow, the group which owns the UK's busiest airport, warned today its ability to help the UK trade with emerging economies was being compromised by it being forced to run at close to capacity.

The airport, which reported underlying profits of £46.5 million on Monday and posted an 8% rise in revenues to £2.46 billion, said 471,341 flights operated through Heathrow in 2012, just 8,659 off its absolute capacity limit.

Heathrow the group was formerly a BAA company, but changed its name to reflect its biggest airport after it sold Stansted Airport to the Manchester Airports Group in 2012.

Monday's record figures also reflected the Stansted sale, along with sales spikes from the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics.

The company predicted more strong growth in Heathrow's turnover this year and said construction of the new Terminal 2 should be completed towards the end of 2013, with operations commencing in mid-2014.

The project accounted for a large slice of the £1.1bn invested in the airport during 2012, an increase of more than 30% on a year earlier.

Heathrow also achieved an all-time record passenger satisfaction score in a survey produced by the Airports Council International for the third quarter, but the percentage of people passing through central security within the prescribed time was below last year's level at 92.8% in 2012.

The amount passengers spend at Heathrow airport also increased by 4.4% to £6.21 per passenger.

Airlines using Heathrow have little to celebrate today however, as bosses at the airport reiterated their intentions to raise £3bn from the airlines by increasing its charges from 2014.

Heathrow has been at the centre of a debate on the UK's aviation future, with a government review led by Sir Howard Davies due to report in 2015 on the country's airport capacity amid opposition to the prospect of a third runway.

Much of the argument settles on whether the UK aviation companies could do more to use the spare capacity at London's other major airports, such as Stansted, Luton, Gatwick and Southend, as well as large regional airports.