Heathrow’s majority shareholder Ferrovial has reported a 2pc increase in profits for the first nine months of the year, helped by a £160m payment from the British airport.

Heathrow Airport paid out £160m to its majority shareholder Ferrovial in the first nine months of the year, helping to boost net profit at the Spanish group by 2pc.

The Spanish infrastructure and construction giant said on Monday that net profit reached €485m (£414m) in the nine months to September 30 after it received dividends of €355m from its investments in airports and toll roads. Revenue climbed almost 5pc to €5.9bn.

Heathrow performed “exceptionally well” during the period, Ferrovial said. Heathrow’s latest results show Britian’s biggest airport paid £476m to its shareholders during the period, although the sum was inflated by a £300m one-off return from the sale of Stansted to Manchester Airports Group in February.

Ferrovial last week sold an 8.65pc stake in Heathrow to Britain’s second biggest pension fund, the Universities Superannuation Scheme, for £392m, pushing its holding down to 25pc.

However, the Madrid-based group cut its stake from 33.65pc after September 30. A spokesman for Ferrovial confirmed it benefited from £160m of the £476m payment made by Heathrow to its shareholders – who also include Qatari and Chinese sovereign wealth funds.

Ferrovial said in a statement on Monday that the funds from the USS deal would “greatly enhance the company’s flexibility to undertake new investments orientated towards international expansion”.

However, the dividend windfall is likely to further anger airlines which have hit out at proposed increases in landing charges at Heathrow from next year.

Carriers including British Airways have accused Heathrow of generating “excessive” returns for its shareholders at the cost of its customers.

Willie Walsh, the head of British Airways’ parent company IAG, yesterday poured further fuel on the fire by accusing Heathrow of “gaming” the regulatory system, which decides how much the airport should be allowed to charge carriers to use its facilities.

Heathrow argues that shareholders have not yet made “anything approaching a market return” and the airport’s recent results have showed a profit after years of losses.