Belfast Telegraph

Gatwick's profits drop by 13% despite higher passenger numbers

Gatwick's profits fell by 13% in the first half of the year despite increased passenger numbers.

The West Sussex airport, whose bid to build a second runway was rejected by the Government last month in favour of Heathrow expansion, recorded a pre-tax profit of £116 million in the six months to September 30, compared with £134 million during the same period last year.

Although revenues were up 8% to £445.2 million, operating costs also rose, up 5% to £251.5 million, and there were £37 million of fair value losses on financial instruments.

A total of 25 million passengers travelled through Gatwick in the first half of the year, an increase of 6%.

This was due to a 4% boost in the number of flights and the average number of seats per aircraft rising from 181 to 185 while maintaining load factors of 87%.

Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said the airport's growth would slow next year.

He told the Press Association: "If you look forward to next summer already we can say that we will grow the airport, albeit it will be a slightly more moderated growth than what we have seen during the course of this year.

"We're confident that we can continue growing the airport but in the long run we're still continuing to offer the Government the opportunity of expanding Gatwick because we believe we've got a deliverable programme that we could be getting on with."

He went on: "We're very happy to compete with Heathrow.

"If the decision was to do it in parallel we would be comfortable with that."

Gatwick is undergoing a £1.2 billion five-year investment project to expand the departure lounges and shopping facilities in its two terminals, improve its railway station in conjunction with Network Rail, provide more parking spaces and strengthen its resilience.

Mr Wingate added: " Gatwick represents the changing face of aviation, demonstrated by today's results.

"We continue to grow strongly, breaking records as passengers respond to the variety on offer at the airport, low-cost, charter airlines and full services airlines - all now flying more passengers on more flights to more global destinations than ever."