Belfast Telegraph

George Best City Airport: Tighter margins and profit loss

By John Simpson

In September 2008, the George Best Belfast City Airport was bought from Groupe Ferrovial, a Spanish group, by an English-based group, Anka Acquisitions.

In recent years the company has traded profitably but with much tighter margins in 2012 than the preceding year.

Turnover by the company peaked in 2007 at just over £19m, after a gradual increase in earlier years. Since 2007 turnover has varied, with a sharp fall in 2008, followed by a steady recovery until 2011. Now, in 2012, turnover has fallen slightly.

In 2012 the Belfast City Airport had to manage the ending of services by British Midland and its related company, BMI Baby, and introduce the services provided by British Airways and Aer Lingus. The annual accounts registered by the company do not comment on the variation in passenger numbers.

A feature of the recent annual report is the impact of a decision by the directors to withdraw a planning application to extend the airport runway. As a consequence the directors have taken an exceptional charge in to the profit and loss account, including all the costs of preparing the frustrated planning application. This impairment added a cost of £1.089m to expenditure and reduced the operating profits.

Largely as a result of this exceptional cost, the pre-tax position converted to an overall loss of £1.7m. Another factor contributing to the pre-tax loss was an increased interest bill on borrowed funds, which was £0.2m higher than in 2011.

Regardless of the exceptional costs, the operating profits of the airport also fell by £1.3m to £0.7m.

Although several hundred people work in and around the airport, the number of direct employees by the company is relatively small. In 2012 an average of 91 people were employed. This was comparable to other recent years.

The new owners have not been awarded any dividends in recent years.

Each year capital spending has generally been comparable with the depreciation allowances. However, in 2012, capital spending of £4.5m was significantly higher than the two preceding years.

Belfast Telegraph

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