Profit rise for Blackpool airport owners

THE new owner of Blackpool International Airport is bucking economic trends by reporting a profits increase.

Balfour Beatty is beating the gloom with a 25 per cent rise in half-year profits and is forecasting a strong finish to its financial year.

The UK's biggest infrastructure firm, which bought a 95 per cent stake in Blackpool Airport for 14m in May this year, said its order book stood at 12.1bn, up by 14 per cent on a year earlier and by six per cent since the year-end.

It has benefited from contracts in the public sector and regulated industries, while growth has also been secured through a number of acquisitions, including the Squires Gate air hub.

Balfour Beatty bought the controlling stake from City Hopper, a subsidiary company of Mar Properties, while Blackpool Council kept its five per cent stake.

It aims to attract more business to the airport and has already announced a new flight to Geneva.

The construction giant has also built Blackpool's 30m Houndshill Centre extension, including the new Debenhams which opens next Thursday.

Work on the scheme has been going on since March 2006 and 140 workers were employed at the height of construction.

Balfour Beatty's announcement of a half-year profits figure of 95m bettered City expectations of 91m and compared with 76m a year earlier.

Chief executive Ian Tyler said: "We anticipate order intake and trading performance will remain strong throughout the year and that we will make further good progress in the second half of the year.''

The firm, which has the contract to build the aquatics centre for the London 2012 Olympic Games, operates in more than 20 countries including the US, where it has a 150m contract to build a new highway in San Antonia, Texas.

Major UK customers include the Highways Agency, BAA, National Grid and the NHS.

Its order book includes the design and construction of the world's largest shopping mall, the Burj Mall in Dubai.