‘Worst year since 1971’ as air passengers avoid Alderney
ALDERNEY AIRPORT saw its worst passenger numbers last year since 1971, although there are more-positive signs for 2019.
The States’ Trading and Supervisory Board said that 2018 had been a ‘challenging’ year for Alderney Airport with recorded passenger numbers nose-diving while other costs soared.
Its spending on the airport was nearly £400,000 above budget at £1.224m.
‘Alderney Airport income is 10.4% lower than 2017. In 2018 the passenger movements were 2.6% lower than 2017.
‘The number of passengers has reduced by 15% over five years and 35% over 10 years and 2018 had the lowest recorded passenger movements since 1971,’ said the STSB in its latest annual review for the States meeting in late June.
A decline in aircraft movements and passenger numbers had slashed revenue by £134,000 while ‘unforeseen’ runway repairs costs £150,000. There were also additional costs of £82,000 due to training for a new air traffic controller and long-term sickness cover.
The review stated: ‘Alderney Airport non-pay costs were £277,000 higher than 2017, primarily as a result of urgent maintenance work and training costs for new recruits to the posts of air traffic controller and firefighter.
‘The 2018 unbudgeted expenditure at Alderney Airport was offset by an underspend on States Property Services maintenance expenditure due to the timing of certain property repairs and maintenance projects.’
In total, STSB spent £1.2m. in 2018, £389,000 under budget.
Guernsey Ports general manager Colin Le Ray said: ‘2018 was a challenging operating year for Alderney Airport.
‘Passenger numbers continued a period of decline with similar impacts on income over the year. It is widely reported that the island has experienced some challenging economic pressures and the reduction in passenger movements is a very clear indicator of those challenges.
‘The Ports Board recognised this in setting its 2019 charges and following lobbying from the States of Alderney agreed to hold its airport charges at 2018 levels this year. Increasing passenger numbers at Alderney Airport is a key priority for the Guernsey Ports Board.’
Mr Le Ray was keen to say that this year is looking more positive.
‘Thankfully, 2019 has started on a positive note. Passenger movements at the end of April were 7% up on the same period last year, with an improvement on income.
‘Whilst the season still has some way to go, the early signs for 2019 look more encouraging.The number of private aircraft movements has improved over recent years and whilst these don’t contribute much to the overall income stream at the airport, it is another encouraging sign of more economic activity on the island.
‘Investment in Alderney Airport remains a priority for the States’ Trading Supervisory Board, with the States of Guernsey endorsing the Alderney Airport runway project in January.
‘The appointment of a lead designer of that scheme is imminent, with work on those proposals commencing shortly.’