NEWCASTLE Airport has said it “weathered the storm very well” last year, although it is still facing heavy interest payments on its £300m debt.
The airport announced its performance for 2010 “compared favourably” with other regional airports, while its financial results have “remained comparatively strong”.
It said passenger numbers had dropped from 4.6 million to 4.4 million in 2010, while pre-tax losses increased from £4.1m to £4.8m. Its operating profit was £16.1m compared to £17.1m in 2009.
But the airport had to make £19.5m in interest payments on its debts in both 2009 and 2010. The loan behind those debts has caused controversy in recent months, with one MP calling for an inquiry into the arrangements behind it.
A spokesman for the airport said: “Considering the events of 2010 that we faced, including a lengthy period of Icelandic volcanic activity and the extreme weather problems of January and November, the results are remarkably strong. It’s also set against the background of challenging conditions in the aviation marketplace, Newcastle Airport has weathered the storm very well.”
However, the weight of the refinancing deal struck with Royal Bank of Scotland in 2006 still weighs on the company’s finances. The airport – which is 51% owned by the region’s seven councils – agreed a £377m mortgage, and The Journal has reported earlier that former chief executive John Parkin and former finance director Lars Friis had it written into their contracts that they would receive 2% and 1% of the loan amount as a bonus. Friis has since died and Parkin no longer works for the airport.