Profits on the up at Belfast City Airport

Operating profits at Belfast City Airport reached £3.3m last year
Operating profits at Belfast City Airport reached £3.3m last year

BELFAST City Airport has reported a 40 per cent uplift in profits as it grew turnover and passenger numbers.

The company said operating profits before exceptional items were £3.3 million last year compared to £2.4m in 2014.

The hike, included in the airport's annual accounts, came as revenue broke the £20m mark, rising 5 per cent to £20.8m.

The airport dealt with 2.69m passengers during the year (up 5.1 per cent on 2.56m in the previous 12 months).

But profits were hit with a one-off £412,000 exceptional expense which was due to professional fees relating to the public inquiry into its seats for sale restriction.

Airport authorities said the outworkings of the inquiry were "still ongoing".

The financial results have been made public a week after the Belfast International Airport reported profits had risen by more than a third.

It made £510,000 on ordinary operations on turnover of £31.1m as the airport saw 4.4m passengers.

George Best Belfast City Airport chief executive Brian Ambrose said the business had "performed exceptionally well in 2015 with an increase in non-aviation revenues and a tight control on costs resulting in a significant increase in operating profit".

“The commencement of the KLM daily service to Amsterdam and Flybe’s new services to London City and Liverpool witnessed passenger numbers steadily increase across our route network," he said.

“Once again we expect 2016 to be a strong year with passenger numbers expected to rise with the arrival of Brussels Airlines, the uplift in the Aer Lingus summer routes to Palma, Alicante, Faro and Malaga plus our nine times daily service to Heathrow with British Airways and Aer Lingus.

“We will continue to invest in our infrastructure in 2016 aimed at improving still further the customer experience with significant capital investment planned in the facility.”

A public inquiry into the airport's 'seats for sale' restriction was held last year.

The seat cap means the airport is only allowed to sell two million departure seats in a year.

Earlier this year the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) recommended that the restriction should be removed but noise limits increased.

However, residents groups living close to the airport claim lifting the cap will leading to a noisier and busier airport.

A final decision will rest with the environment minister.