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BAA declared itself satisfied with Heathrow airport’s handling of the Olympic Games so far but the company is braced for disruption on Thursday if a planned strike by Border Force staff goes ahead.
Colin Matthews, chief executive of BAA, the operator of Heathrow and Stansted airports said: “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.”
On Thursday Heathrow is preparing for its busiest day for flight arrivals because of the Olympics, and the government is seeking an urgent injunction to stop a strike by Border Force staff that has been organised by the Public and Commercial Services union.
To date, Heathrow has defied its critics and coped with the influx of athletes and foreign visitors to Britain for the Olympics.
Ministers have curtailed the embarrassing spectacle of long queues at passport control, which have dogged Heathrow for much of this year, by drafting in additional Border Force staff for the Olympics.
Queues greatly lengthened earlier this year because of cuts to Border Force staff and stringent immigration checks.
BAA reported revenue of £1.2bn for the six months to June 30, up 8.4 per cent on the same time last year.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose 8.8 per cent to £555.2m.
BAA recorded a pre-tax loss of £50.9m, mainly because of large interest payments it makes on its debt.
This compared to a loss of £249.2m one year ago and the improvement partly stemmed from gains on valuations of derivatives.
BAA recorded a £132.6m exceptional charge as the defined benefit pension scheme that it is involved in swung from a surplus to a deficit of £89.9m at June 30.
The company’s net debt rose by 5.6 per cent to £11bn at June 30. BAA was bought in 2006 by a consortium led by Spain’s Ferrovial for £16bn, in what was a highly leveraged takeover.
The number of passengers using Heathrow rose 2.2 per cent to a record 33.6m during the first half of 2012, driven by strong demand for North Atlantic travel.
But passenger traffic at Stansted fell 4.5 per cent, as it continued to be hurt by declining leisure travel, particularly to Europe.
BAA gave a brief outline of its five-year investment plan for Heathrow for the period from 2014 to 2019, as regulators prepare to decide the level at which they will cap the landing charges that BAA levies on airlines.
BAA said capital spending over the five years would be £3bn and would cover items including completion of a new baggage handling system in terminal 3 and further expansion of Terminal 5.