Airport operator, BAA wrote off £58milion against the costs of the volcanic ash, winter snow and the British Airways cabin crew strike action incurred during last year. It came in with a £370 pre-tax loss, which was an improvement on the £820 million loss for the previous year.
The figures are somewhat skewed by disposal losses of some £270million on the sale of airports including London Gatwick.
In an encouraging statement, BAA committed itself to spending whatever was required to ensure that its airports were properly equipped for snow and other sources of disruption. This comes on top of an already announced £1 billion upgrade to Heathrow during the coming year and a further £4 billion over the subsequent 4 years.
BAA is part of a Spanish group that already has extensive debts. On one hand it is said that they only owe £11 billion but have assets of £14 billion. The more cynical commentators point out that Banks in Iceland, Ireland and other countries have been known to use the same argument.
Do we have another foreign company, running key National infrastructure, that is too big to be allowed to fail?
Over the years, we seem to have recognised that the British public sector was very poor at running large infrastructure projects. Privatisation became the solution to problems as diverse as BT, British Gas, British Rail and then the airports. This policy has shown some success but, left unattended, can come back to bite us.
This correspondent worries that we may be at risk of a financial disaster, the effects of which will be of our own neglect and making.
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26 March 2011, 02:36PM
How can we, as a once proud nation, have sold our airports to a foreign company? I have not been a massive fan of nationalisation of companies and services but there are certain classes of infrastructure that really ought to be under national control.
Mrs Kemble, Reading, UK
24 April 2011, 11:58PM
Our successive governments have let us down so badly. Brown sold all the gold at a knock down price and the conservatives started the road to privatisation. It seemed like a good idea at the time but look where it has got us.
Will Stansted survive or has BAA alientated its budget airline customers.
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