Belfast Telegraph

Company report: Belfast International Airport

By John Simpson

Belfast International Airport (BIA) was, until July 2012, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Belfast International Airport Holdings. In July 2012, it was sold to another subsidiary in the same Spanish group, TBI Airport Holdings for £105.9m. More recently, the Belfast company was sold again, outside this group, to Houston, Texas, based ADC & HAS Airports Worldwide, for an undisclosed sum.

In recent years, BIA has been trading with slightly reduced annual turnover. In 2012, turnover was just under £30m and was 1% lower than in 2011. Five years ago, annual turnover was over £34m and since then the airport has been facing difficult recessionary trading conditions.

In 2012, the number of passengers passing through the airport increased to 4.3m. The low point in passenger numbers was in 2010 at just over 4m, having fallen from over 5.2m in 2008-9.

Operating profits also recovered in 2012 to reach £4.1m, compared to a restated figure in 2011 of £3.9m. This is somewhat lower than higher operating profits in 2007-9. Pre-tax profits have moved in line with operating profits after a deduction, in 2011 and 2012, of net interest payments of £1.7m on funds borrowed within the group.

The balance sheet value of shareholders' funds has reflected changes largely caused by unrealised deficits in the valuation of the property investment in the airport. In 2008, an unrealised deficit of £27m was deducted from the value of the assets. In 2009, a further deficit of £28m was deducted. This was followed by a deduction of £18m in 2010 and a further deduction of under £2m in 2011.

The company operates a defined benefit pension scheme for some employees. The annual actuarial assessment points to a potential deficit on the scheme at the end of 2012 of £7.7m.

In an unexpected inclusion with the annual report and accounts, there is a copy of a letter from BIA to Deloitte's, the auditors of the accounts, 'for the purpose of expressing an opinion as to whether the financial statements give a true and fair view of the financial position of the companies as of 31 December 2012'. The company gives 20 broad-ranging itemised representations confirming various statements to the best of their knowledge and belief.

This also includes a reallocation of a sum of £343,511 to correct a misstatement, described as a judgmental reclassification. It also draws attention to the omission, this year, of a turnover split for income streams as published in earlier years. In justification, the company management say that they believe that this additional disclosure would be prejudicial to future operations.

Belfast Telegraph