Last year, some 70 million travellers passed through Heathrow airport, up 0.9% on 2011. This increase in consumers filling their baskets with Hugo Boss 'fragrance' and three hundred quid, super-deluxe Scotch, has helped Heathrow to rise out of the red to post underlying profits of 46.4m. Heathrow's retail income has increased 4.4% to £6.21 per passenger.
And there’s also the small matter of a 12.5% increase in fees charged to the airlines using landing slots at the airport. That’s quite a hike over an eight-month period.
But Heathrow bosses warn that the airport is now very close to its 480,000 flight capacity, notching up 471,341 take offs last year. This is already severely inhibiting the airport’s ability to scale up its routes to the emerging markets, which could put a dampener on the UK’s trade prospects.
At least the consumer side of the business is flying high. Passengers stuck in the recent weather-related chaos might find this hard to believe, but Heathrow’s customer satisfaction ratings are at the highest level since records began. Although of course that little spell of snow and fog trouble is not covered by this morning's announcement.
Heathrow’s current building works over at Terminal 2 will ensure that the Terminal 5 feel-good factor is to be felt by those flying out on Monarch, Delta, US Airways, US Airways, and Virgin Atlantic flights too. The new-look terminal will be complete by the end of 2013.
Although, as any passenger who has attempted to get through security in less than 40 minutes can attest, Heathrow does admit that the number of people getting past the scanners within the recommended time frame has fallen. And let's not mention the chaos caused by the occasional smattering of snow flakes...
These results include the figures for Stansted Airport, which was sold after the year-end to Manchester Airport Group for £1.5bn. Unlike Heathrow, Stansted saw passenger numbers fall by 3.2% to 17.5 million. Although price hikes over in duty free have seen retail spend per person rise 2.8% to 4.27.
And there’s not a cloud in the horizon for Heathrow’s prospects for 2013, according to company bosses. Turnover will increase once more, they say, and the £1.1 billion invested in the airport during 2012 will bear fruit in the shape of increased passenger spend and satisfaction. It better. That figure is more than 30% Heathrow’ 2011 spend.