British airport operator BAA has said it expects passenger traffic to improve in 2010, but warned the airport industry to remain prepared for further economic challenges.
BAA, the owner of London's Heathrow and Stansted airports, reported a 3.8% fall in passenger traffic in 2009 to 85.9 million, according to Reuters.
BAA said that Heathrow airport outperformed its competitors, although still experienced a 1.5% decline in passenger volume.
Heathrow's revenue also increased by 8.3%, indicating higher tariffs and a strong retail performance.
In the past, Heathrow has faced criticism over passenger delays, most notably following the inauguration of its £4.3bn ($6.6bn) Terminal 5 in March 2008.
BAA, which is currently investing heavily in airport expansion, has started recovering from debt by selling Gatwick and holding a £500m ($773m) equity fundraising last November.
BAA's net debt at the end of 2009 was £8.58bn ($13bn), compared to £9.43bn ($14bn) at the end of 2008.
BAA, driven by increased revenue and strong cost control, has reported a 17.1% increase in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to £885.2m ($1,369m) in 2009.