LONDON–London’s Gatwick airport reported a strong rise in full-year profit, helped by traffic growth and the addition of new routes to emerging markets in Asia. London’s second largest airport said on Monday its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization rose 17 percent to 221.5 million pounds (US$344.63 million) in the year to the end of March. Revenues rose 8.6 percent to 517.4 million pounds. Gatwick, owned by Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) — an investment fund founded by Credit Suisse and General Electric — said passenger traffic grew 6.9 percent to 33.8 million, boosted by its investment program and new routes to emerging markets. “We have been winning new connections to high growth economies including South Korea, Turkey, Vietnam, Hong Kong and China,” said Gatwick’s Chief Executive Stewart Wingate. Rival London airport Heathrow is operating at full capacity after Britain’s Conservative-led coalition government blocked development of a third runway when it came to power in 2010 as further expansion of the west London site would mean a huge increase in the number of planes flying directly over the capital.
Heathrow, operated by BAA, has seen traffic to emerging markets rise in recent years and believes it is now falling behind other airports in the battle for these lucrative routes because of constraints on growth.
Birmingham airport, in the English Midlands, on Monday published a report saying it had spare capacity to ease the strain on Heathrow. GIP bought Gatwick for 1.5 billion pounds from Ferrovial-owned BAA in 2009 and has since focused on improving the airport’s facilities. “Passengers and airlines are benefiting from new facilities and we are currently investing around 20 million pounds per month,” said Wingate, who added that a further 435 million pounds would be invested over the next two years. In the last three years GIP has invested 750 million pounds modernizing its two terminals and revamping its security, baggage and inter-terminal shuttle services.