Despite its position as the South Bank's top tourist attraction, the London Eye racked up a loss of £18 million last year as it struggled with crippling interest repayments.
Despite a £1 million drop in ticket revenues last year, the Eye would be making a healthy profit if it were not for the 25 per cent-a-year interest rate being charged on the loan by British Airways.
Latest accounts show that the attraction lost £17.6 million last year compared with £10.9 million in 2002.
British Airways spent £48 million building the wheel five years ago. Since then, the debt owed to the airline has increased to £130.6million as the interest piled up. Last year's repayments totalled £29 million.
"In the late Nineties no one else was interested in funding a high-risk project of this kind. It was seen as an acceptable rate of return," a BA spokeswoman told the Evening Standard on Friday.
London Eye managing director David Sharpe said: "The company is very keen to push this refinancing through because otherwise the business is doing well. Bookings in the run-up to Christmas are very much up on last year."
3.6 million people are expected to have visited the London Eye during 2004.
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