Volcanic ash cloud costs BAA £28m

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The Independent Online

The volcanic ash cloud cost the airport operator BAA £28m by forcing the closure of Heathrow and Stansted for six days earlier this month.

The company plans to pursue compensation for the losses, and is involved in discussions with the Government about industry-wide claims.

BAA spelt out the impact of Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull alongside first-quarter financial results for Heathrow and Stansted showing pre-tax losses of £196m, some 38 per cent lower than last year. Sales for the quarter were up by 5.5 per cent as passenger numbers increased by 0.2 per cent to 18.6 million at the two airports.

Despite recent improvements, BAA remains cautious. "Operational performance in the quarter was robust despite enhanced security procedures, extreme winter weather and industrial action at our biggest airline customer [British Airways]," Colin Matthews, the BAA chief executive, said yesterday. "The rest of 2010 continues to present significant financial challenges for the industry as a whole."

Although Stansted continues to struggle, with 4.7 per cent fewer passengers than in the first quarter of 2009, Heathrow saw a 1.6 per cent boost, reflecting a bounce-back in European charter flights following earlier improvements in long haul.

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