Profits rise at airports owner MAG

LONDON Wed Jul 31, 2013 12:05am BST

Aircraft are seen from the new control tower at Manchester Airport, northern England June 25, 2013. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Aircraft are seen from the new control tower at Manchester Airport, northern England June 25, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Phil Noble

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LONDON (Reuters) - Manchester Airports Group (MAG) posted a 12 percent increase in full-year profit on Wednesday, boosted by an increase in passenger numbers and higher commercial revenue.

MAG, which owns four British airports, reported an operating profit of 73.6 million pounds in the year to the end of March on revenue 5.3 percent higher at 393.1 million pounds, excluding the impact of London Stansted airport, which it bought in February.

Commercial income, including retail, car parking and property earnings, rose 5.8 percent to 215.4 million pounds.

Excluding Stansted, MAG said passenger numbers grew 1.9 percent to 24.5 million during the year, helped by the addition of new services, including an easyJet service between Manchester and Moscow.

The company, which also owns England's Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports, expects passenger numbers to top 42 million in 2013/14, including Stansted.

"Realistically it will be a year of integration for Stansted to position it for growth next year," said MAG's Chief Financial Officer, Neil Thompson. "So while Stansted will be steady, the rest of the group should see growth."

MAG, which is owned by ten boroughs of the city of Manchester in northwest England and Australia's Industry Funds Management, more than doubled dividend pay-outs for the year to 42 million pounds. It also proposed a special dividend worth 30 million pounds following the successful acquisition of Stansted.

Earlier this month, MAG asked the British government to allow Stansted to be expanded into a four-runway hub to help solve London's air capacity crunch. It also urged authorities to make better use of the UK's regional airports.

(Reporting by Rhys Jones; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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