British airports firm BAA says snow chaos cost £24mn

12th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

British airports operator BAA admitted on Wednesday that the recent harsh wintry weather, which sparked travel chaos, had cost it about £24 million (29 million euros, $38 million).

The Spanish-owned firm, which operates six airports in Britain, was widely criticised over its handling of the freezing weather conditions that gripped much of Britain over the crucial Christmas holiday period.

"All of BAA's airports were affected by severe weather to some extent in December and the resulting disruption is estimated to have affected profits across BAA... by approximately 24 million pounds," it said in a statement.

BAA operates London's Heathrow and Stansted airports, as well as Southampton in southern England and Aberdeen in Scotland.

Heathrow was particularly hard hit by the winter travel chaos. Heavy snow and thick ice all but closed the busiest international passenger air hub in the world late last month, stranding hundreds and sparking a humble apology from BAA chief executive Colin Matthews in the run-up to Christmas.

"The approximate financial cost by airport, measured in terms of the reduction in profit, was 19 million pounds at Heathrow, 1.0 million pounds at Stansted and 4.0 million pounds across the group's four other UK airports of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Southampton," BAA added on Wednesday.

"The reduction in profits partly reflects lower revenues, principally in terms of lost aeronautical income driven by reduced passenger traffic."

The company, which was bought by Spanish construction group Ferrovial in 2006, also said overall passenger numbers plunged by 11 percent last month, compared with December 2009, as a result of the snow.

BAA has meanwhile set up an independent inquiry into the poor performance of its Heathrow operations last month. The findings are due in March.

© 2011 AFP

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