Heathrow flyers climb ahead of expansion decision

Heathrow airport Image copyright Getty Images

Heathrow reported record passenger numbers for the first nine months of 2016 ahead of an imminent decision on UK airport expansion.

The company said 57.3 million people had used the airport so far this year.

The government is expected to announce its preferred choice for expansion next week, with Heathrow widely expected to get the go-ahead for a third runway.

Heathrow's chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, urged ministers to make a decision.

"It is time to get on with it," he told the BBC.

While the government will announce its preference next week, a final decision will not be made until 2017-18, a move that London Mayor Sadiq Khan described as "dithering".

Mr Holland-Kaye said: "Heathrow is the right choice to help make Britain stronger and fairer for everyone...and we stand ready to deliver the runway that will keep Britain a confident, outward looking trading nation as soon as we get the green light from government."

Operating profit at Heathrow for the nine months to the end of September rose by 4.4% to £1.2bn, with revenue up 1.2% at £2bn.

However, after exceptional items were taken into account, it reported a loss of £293m for the nine-month period, compared with a £552m profit a year earlier.

Long haul traffic was boosted by people flying to the Middle East and Asia Pacific but short-haul fell after Virgin Little Red, which served domestic flyers, ended its operations last year.

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