Gatwick airport posted a £29.1 million loss today, despite new routes to Beijing and Istanbul boosting the number of passengers in its arrivals and departure lounges in the year to April.
However Gatwick's dive into the red was lower than the £45.7 million loss seen a year earlier, and the world's busiest single-runway airport claimed it was due to heavy investment.
The airport - owned by Global Infrastructure Partners, an investment fund set up by Credit Suisse and General Electric, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Korean and Canadian pensioners - spent £226.7 million in the year. Most of the cash went on resurfacing the runways and taxiways, and building new shops and restaurants in the North Terminal, including Jamie's Italian.
Gatwick added that it had spent nearly £1 billion over the last five years; it is part of the airport's bid to attract 37 million passengers through its terminals each year by 2020.
That would mean luring almost 10 per cent more travellers over the next seven years - in the 12 months to April, the airport's passenger traffic inched up 1.2 per cent to 34.2 million.
Chief executive Stewart Wingate said that growth had stemmed from new routes to emerging markets including China, Indonesia and Turkey, and expansion from existing carriers, such as easyJet launching flights to Moscow, and more flights to Vietnam from Vietnam Airlines.
But Gatwick's long-haul market actually fell - down 1.4 per cent, or 100,000 passengers - as Delta Airlines axed its London to Atlanta service, and Thomas Cook dumped its route to Vancouver.
Some airlines also moved out of Gatwick, with Adria Airways moving to Luton, Air Moldova moving operations to Stansted, and Ryanair withdrawing all non-Irish routes.
Gatwick is now bidding to make more money from its flights, today telling the industry regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, it wants its take-off and landing charges to rise 1.5 per cent a year in real terms during each of the seven years from 2014. It had asked for a 4 per cent rise, but that was rejected by the CAA.