Aena SA said profit jumped last year as the operator of Spain’s main airports for Madrid and Barcelona benefited from a record number of tourists visiting the country.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, rose 17 percent to 1.88 billion euros ($2 billion) in 2014, compared with analysts’ 1.83 billion-euro average estimate. Aena, the world’s biggest airport operator by passenger volume, saw its passenger growth accelerate to 5.7 percent in the first two months of this year from 4.5 percent in 2014, it said today.

It was the Madrid-based company’s first earnings report since selling shares to the public in February in Europe’s largest initial public offering since 2011. Aena had record international traffic last year as the number of foreign tourists to Spain climbed 7.1 percent to 65 million, the biggest increase in more than a decade.

Madrid’s Barajas airport is showing “a clear comeback” in business after the country’s economy returned to growth in 2014 after three years of recession, Chief Executive Officer Jose Vargas said on a conference call today. Madrid and Barcelona, Aena’s largest airports, have higher revenue per passenger than others operated by the group, he said.

The shares rose 2.7 percent to 82.87 euros at 4:19 p.m. in Madrid, taking the advance to more than 40 percent since the IPO and valuing the company at 12.4 billion euros.

The company’s Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas airport was Europe’s fifth-busiest by passenger volume last year with a 5.3 percent advance to 41.8 million. Its Barcelona-El Prat airport saw passengers increase 6.7 percent to 37.6 million.

Aena runs 46 airports and two heliports in Spain and participates in the management of 12 airports in Mexico, two in Colombia and London Luton. The company has pledged to start paying out half its profit in dividends.

Aena postponed publication of its earnings from March 24 because of the Germanwings aircraft that crashed in France, killing 150 people, after departing from Barcelona.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rodrigo Orihuela in Madrid at To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at Robert Valpuesta, Charles Penty.

This article was written by Rodrigo Orihuela from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Tags: labor, madrid, spain
Photo Credit: A women looks at the departures board at Madrid Barajas.