BAA says it will continue to increase its construction spend by about 6% a year, despite a drive to cut its number of framework suppliers.

The airport operator spent £467.4m on its construction programme in the 12 months to 31 March 1998, a rise of 6% on its £440.5m capital expenditure in the previous 12 months, not including £123.4m spent on the Heathrow Express project in 1997-98.

A spokesperson also said that the number of framework suppliers, currently 87, would come down during the year but would not give a target figure. "All our existing suppliers understand what's going on and they know why we are doing it," he said. "This is not a bolt from the blue. It is an exercise that will be going on over the next few months. We went out to get the best in class and now we want to get the best of the rest."

BAA's pre-tax profit rose 7.5% to £516m for the year to 31 March 1999. Operating profit was up 15.5% to £605m. The group said the results would help further investment in the infrastructure of its airports.

The group recently announced that it is planning a £300m expansion of Stansted and Gatwick airports in a bid to increase capacity to 15 million and 42 million passengers a year respectively. It also wants to add 150 000 ft2 of retail space to Stansted, Gatwick and Heathrow airports and expects to get planning permission this week for the £50m extension to the Hilton Hotel at Heathrow Terminal 4.