Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Brighter News on Air Industry Horizons

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Brighter News on Air Industry Horizons

Article excerpt

The airline industry will be in focus this week when airports operator BAA and British Airways report after a summer clouded by the July bombings.

Investors will also digest results from the likes of Imperial Tobacco and clothing firm Matalan.

BAA will kick off its sector's reporting season tomorrow after a period overshadowed by the London bombings and strikes at Heathrow.

The airports operator, whose seven sites also include Gatwick and Stansted, saw its growth hampered by the terrorist attacks and the wildcat strikes which grounded the British Airways fleet during the summer, but has since shown signs of recovery.

This helped it report a pick-up in passenger figures for September. Other good news has come from its retail business, where the group has bucked the tough conditions experienced by many operators.

Analyst Peter Caldwell at Barclays stockbrokers said: "The September trading update noted that retail continues to trade well, particularly when compared to the high street."

Barclays expects BAA to post interim pre-tax profits of pounds 380m tomorrow against pounds 353m last time, although it added that new accounting rules might cause some confusion.

Similar issues will be in focus when British Airways reports on the first half of its financial year on Friday.

The airline eased concerns about the affect of the London bomb blasts in a trading statement in August, when it said the short-term impact would not be material.

This week's update will be the first set of results under the leadership of new boss Willie Walsh. Investors will be interested to hear what he has to say on issues such as soaring oil prices.

Tony Shepard, analyst at broker Charles Stanley, said: "Presentation of the half-year results will introduce Willie Walsh to a broader City audience.

"Although press coverage of his appointment was extensive, he has a number of challenges which will define his tenure and how he tackles them is still unclear. …

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