Business

Profits soar in first year of new ownership at Belfast City Airport

Profits have soared by almost 6 per cent at Belfast City Airport according to its latest accounts
Gareth McKeown

PROFITS have soared by almost 6 per cent at Belfast City Airport in its first year of trading under new ownership.

The latest accounts for the airport show that operating profit increased to £2.9m last year, an increase of 5.9 per cent on the £2.74m reported in 2016.

Turnover also grew, albeit marginally to £21.25m in the year to December 31. The north's second largest airport, which directly employs 68 people, saw 2.55 million passengers through its doors last year, a slight fall on the 2.67 million recorded in 2016.

Belfast City Airport was bought over by a consortium managed by investment managers 3i Group in a reported £500m deal in December 2016. The new owners formally took over from London-based Eiser Global Infrastructure Fund in June of last year.

Under the new ownership the airport is currently undergoing a major £15m refurbishment programme to upgrade its departure lounge, improve security areas and purchase three new fire appliances. It is the biggest infrastructural investment in the airport's 80-year history.

Speaking about the latest accounts, chief executive, Brian Executive described it as "another good trading year" for Belfast City Airport.

“3i has continued its strategic investment. At present the airport is under-going a significant terminal refurbishment programme, which will be completed by October and include a significantly enhanced departures area and upgrade to security search facilities," he said.

“We continue to partner with blue-chip airlines such as British Airways, Aer Lingus, KLM and Flybe in offering passengers near blanket coverage of UK destinations and we aim to widen our European portfolio on key routes."

Meanwhile Belfast City Airport has become the first airport to become JAM (Just a Minute) Card friendly. Staff are now trained to recognise the cards, designed to discreetly notify staff that holders may require additional time in a simple and non-verbal way. While originally intended for those with learning disabilities, the JAM Cards can now be used by anyone experiencing a barrier to communication.

Airport operations manager, Judith Davis said it is important that all passengers feel welcome and comfortable when travelling.

“With over 10,000 people currently using the JAM Cards, it was essential we trained our staff to recognise the implications of travelling with a disability or difficulty and how to best assist."

“Our staff have been trained to identify both the card and the app, helping us provide the best quality of service intended to meet the needs of each individual passenger," she added.

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