July 25, 2012 / 6:56 AM / 5 years ago

BAA squeezes more growth from Heathrow hub

LONDON (Reuters) - British airports operator BAA posted an 8.8 percent rise in first-half profit on Wednesday, squeezing more growth from its busy London Heathrow hub.

The business, owned by Spanish group Ferrovial (FER.MC), reported earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) of 555.2 million pounds ($862.03 million) in the six months to the end of June with revenue up 8.4 percent at 1.16 billion pounds.

Revenue was boosted by higher fees airline fees and a 2.4 percent rise in retail income, it said.

London Heathrow - Europe’s busiest airport - handled 33.6 million passenger in the period - up 2.2 percent on the same period last year - and helped by strong north Atlantic traffic which increased 4.7 percent.

BAA expects to report full year EBITDA of 1.27 billion pounds on revenues of around 2.5 billion pounds, in line with its previous forecasts.

The airport operator said Heathrow had handled Olympic-led increase in passenger numbers well so far.

“We are pleased that Olympic arrivals have gone smoothly so far but there is lots more to do. London 2012 is Britain’s biggest peacetime transport challenge and we are spending more than 20 million pounds to ensure Heathrow is ready for its busiest ever period,” chief executive Colin Matthews said.

($1 = 0.6441 British pounds)

Reporting by Rhys Jones; Editing by Sarah Young

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