Kerry airport boosts profits aided by State grant gains

Profit at the Farranfore airport rose to almost €850,000 while grants exceeded €1.6m

Kerry Airport in Farranfore. The airport carried 335,480 passengers last year.

Kerry Airport in Farranfore. The airport carried 335,480 passengers last year.

 

Kerry Airport increased its profit by more than €486,000 last year but government grants covering capital assets and operational costs far eclipsed the pre-tax gain.

The facility, which last year carried 335,480 passengers, saw profit before tax rise 153 per cent to €848,148 in 2017, recently filed accounts show.

Capital grants of €582,517 were approved in the year while an operational grant increased 71.5 per cent to €1.075 million.

The Republic’s fifth-largest airport improved turnover by 5.75 per cent to €6.34 million helped by rises in fuel sales, aircraft operations and the development fee. Car park income also increased to €352,410, but gift shop sales dropped marginally to €365,799.

In their report accompanying the recently filed accounts, the directors said they considered the results to be “satisfactory”.

“Turnover for the year has benefited by an increase in aircraft and passenger related revenue due to an increase in passenger numbers using the facility.

“Profitability has been enhanced by achieving better margins on a number of revenue streams as well as a greater allocation on government revenue grants available in 2017,” they said.

Series of risks

Nonetheless, the airport faces a series of risks, it said, with Brexit chief among them. They noted the potential impact on the industry as a “concern” – particularly considering its busy services to both London Stansted and London Luton airport.

Additionally, it flagged the recently renewed public service obligation (PSO) contract with Stobart Air – operating on behalf of Aer Lingus – to fly from Kerry to Dublin twice daily as a key factor in its existence.

“The board must stress the importance of this government support in attracting airlines to operate at times and frequencies that are of vital economic and tourism benefit to the local economy of the county.”

With those risks the directors said they were “actively engaging” with its two key airlines as well as potential new airlines “for inclusion in any expansion plans they may be considering”.

Basil Sheerin, the airport’s financial controller, said the airport is aiming to expand its route offering, and expects to have talks with Ryanair in a number of weeks to see if there are expansion opportunities with that airline.

Summer peak

“We’ve got the most beds outside of Dublin, we’ve the most five-star hotels in the country. We can deliver, we just need to get the message out,” he said on the tourism offering in Kerry.

Employee numbers at the facility increased by 3 to 50 while wage and salary costs rose 8.4 per cent to €2.05 million. In its peak summer season the airport had about 78 arrivals and departures a week.

Kerry Airport’s cash position, meanwhile, increased 9.3 per cent in the period to €7.15 million.

Earlier this year it flagged that a new arrivals hall and departures lounge being planned could be operational by 2019.