BAA's transatlantic traffic plunges by 38%

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The Independent Online

Transatlantic passengers using BAA's UK airports dropped by 38 per cent after last month's terrorist outrage in the US.

"Passenger numbers were profoundly affected by the terrorists' attacks," the operator of seven UK airports said. Almost all of its transatlantic traffic goes through the Heathrow or Gatwick airports.

Last week, British Airways said that it carried 488,000 transatlantic customers in September, down 32 per cent on the same month last year.

For September as a whole, 11.2 million passengers passed through BAA's UK airports, down 6 per cent on the month last year – for the first 10 days of September traffic was 3.0 per cent up but after the 11th, it fell by 10.6 per cent. Cargo tonnage for all its airports was down 22.2 per cent in September, with a 27.5 per cent fall in the latter part of the month. BAA has admitted the US attacks could knock profits by a fifth. It will publish interim results on 29 October.

BAA also announced that it had sold its poorly-performing World Duty Free Americas, a business it had been trying to offload for two years. The division, which has 106 duty free stores, fetched £84m. However, £80m of the cash from the buyer, Duty Free Acquisition, will be used to repay a bond.