September 6, 2008

Go-Ahead Sees Passenger Growth

By John Collingridge City Reporter

The group, which has an aviation services division and handles baggage at Leeds Bradford Airport, said full-year pre-tax profit rose 19 per cent to 131.1m in the year to June 28.A fourth quarter surge in bus and rail passengers saw the group capitalise on a trend towards increasing public transport use. Bus passengers were up 4.9 per cent in the fourth quarter."We have never been in better shape," said finance director Nick Swift."We saw an acceleration of growth through the second half, bus passengers were up 4.9 per cent in the fourth quarter."Part of that is the price of fuel filling a tank is that much more expensive but public transport is generally cheaper than driving a car."Go-ahead said it has hedged all of next financial year's fuel requirements. Profit in the bus division rose 18.6 per cent to 66.2m while rail profits soared by 16.8 per cent to 77.2m.The aviation division climbed into the black with a 1.5m profit, compared to last year's 3.5m loss. Go-ahead said more than 70 per cent of the aviation profit came from ground handling operations, where revenue grew by 12.7 per cent.The group did not break down its individual airport performance, but said much of the turnover increase in ground handling came due to a new British Airways contract for services at Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester airports.Go-Ahead is now steeling itself for any loss of business from struggling airlines, which have been hit by high fuel costs.Go-Ahead said it believes it is well placed for the year ahead, "whilst mindful of the current economic uncertainty".It increased its full-year dividend by 15.7 per cent to 81 pence per share.

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