BAA sees underlying profits and cash flow up in 2009

A British Airways aircraft makes its final approach at Gatwick airport December 7, 2008. . REUTERS/Andrew Winning

LONDON (Reuters) - Airports operator BAA reported a drop in passengers and profits in 2008 but said its expects underlying profits and cash flow to rise in the coming ‘challenging’ year.

The unit of Spain’s Grupo Ferrovial also said the planned disposal of Gatwick Airport is progressing on schedule.

The company said group passenger traffic declined 2.7 pct to 151.4 million, with traffic at its three London airports declining 2.6 pct to 123.4 million.

Adjusted operating profit for the year fell 23.3 percent to 472 million pounds on a 16 percent rise in revenue to 2.3 billion.

“BAA performed strongly in 2008 although its performance was affected by a drop in passengers, which reflects the general economic situation,” said BAA Chief Executive Colin Matthews.

“2009 will be a challenging year but BAA is resourced and structured to meet those challenges and continue to invest in the capital programme that is vital for the future of the business, its passengers and our airline customers.”