It described the 12 months to March as “challenging”, flagging the impact of Brexit on UK labour supply.
Passenger numbers in the year to March totalled 459,000, up from 118,000 in the prior 12 months. The prior-year period included restrictions on overseas travel arising from the coronavirus pandemic.
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The airport’s directors flag – in their strategic report on the accounts for the year to March – their agreement of new terms with budget airline Ryanair for another five years.
They add: “We are pleased that we remain high up in…Ryanair’s key performance indicators and have agreed new terms with the carrier for another five years. Prestwick remains an important base for the carrier with an aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul facility employing over 500 engineers at their facility at the airport, and we look forward to continuing to build on existing routes and add new routes to meet demand.”
The directors also highlight their plans to invest in facilities to support the airport’s military customers, amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.
They say: “We continue to provide excellent service to our military customers with most NATO nations using our airfield and facilities, most notably the RAF, USAF and the Royal Canadian Air Force, which recently celebrated its 80th anniversary of a connection with Prestwick, now firmly established at the airport.
“The airport has a reputation for hosting and supporting key events and in recent months we supported a NATO exercise in Germany and this a credit to our staff who delivered excellent service. With the ongoing war in Ukraine we expect this activity to continue and we will invest in facilities to support our military customers.”
In the year to March 2021, Prestwick Airport made operating profits of £5.7m but this included around £5.2m of exceptional gains related to the reversal of previous impairment charges on plant and equipment and on land.
Highlighting the effect of Brexit in their strategic report, the directors say: “At the start of 2022 the travel sector predicted a strong summer season with unrestricted travel, but the impact of Brexit on the UK labour supply and the tightening of CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) regulations created a shortage of skilled labour for the aviation industry.
“However, the airport managed to adapt and recruit, avoiding passenger queues and delays, with our staff working hard to deliver a safe, secure and efficient service with passenger numbers substantially up on the previous year.”
Chief executive Ian Forgie said: “The board and I are pleased with another year of good performance and thank all our staff who made it happen.”
In the strategic report, the directors say: “Once again, the airport demonstrated its key strength in offering a diverse range of services to different markets and returned a steady operating profit in challenging conditions.”
Revenue jumped to £58.1m in the year to March 31, from £35m in the prior 12 months. Within this, revenues from passenger business leapt to £3.8m in the year to March, from less than £1.3m in the prior financial year.
The accounts show revenue from fuel-related business jumped to £40.8m from £20.8m.
A spokesman for Prestwick Airport said: “Revenue growth was largely driven by a significant increase in the commodity price of jet fuel. This does not impact profits. There was a growth in fuel volume [year on year] which has driven some of the revenue growth and impacts profits.”
While operating profits rose, earnings fell at the pre-tax level because of a rise in finance costs – in the form of interest on a loan from Transport Scotland on behalf of Scottish Ministers – to £1.7m from £1.1m.
Prestwick Airport, which reports its results as TS Prestwick Holdco Ltd, achieved a pre-tax profit of £836,000 in the year to March in spite of the leap in finance costs, albeit this was down from £1.2m in the prior 12 months.
Loans to Prestwick Airport from Transport Scotland, on behalf of the Scottish Ministers, totalled £43.4m at the end of March, unchanged from 12 months earlier.
The accounts of TS Prestwick Holdco Ltd state: “The Scottish Government and Scottish Ministers continue to strongly support the board and consider the airport as a long-term strategic asset.
“Based on this, the board is confident that the Scottish Government will continue to defer repayment of the outstanding loans and accrued interest thereon for the foreseeable future – at least 12 months from the date of approval of these financial statements – and until a suitable financial restructure can be agreed by both parties, or alternatively on a future sale of the business.”
Cargo revenue fell to £3.4m in the year to March, from nearly £4.2m in the prior 12 months.
Asked about the reasons for the fall, the airport spokesman replied: “The global cargo industry has experienced a substantial decline in volumes as a result of worldwide economic factors including soaring inflation, a sluggish Chinese economy and the conflict in Ukraine. The return of passenger flights following the Covid-19 pandemic also meant the return of cost-effective belly capacity on passenger aircraft which has brought significant challenges for dedicated freighter operators.
“The 2021/22 cargo revenue was boosted by the surge in air cargo demand and increased charters supplying vaccines, tests kits and medical equipment in response to the Covid pandemic.”
The airport’s directors also underline their ambitions to create a spaceport at Prestwick Airport.
They say: “Achieving a horizontal Spaceport facility has been an ambition of the airport for a number of years. It is a complex and specialised operation with the barriers to entry high and we continue to work closely with South Ayrshire Council, Scottish Enterprise and our launch operator partner to make this a reality.”