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Review 2012

Review 2012

January Blues that didnt last too long but then quickly returned

 

2012 started without much to look forward to. Ryanairs Summer Alicante scheduled service was not returning, and there was reductions planned for the Summer charter programme. Meanwhile the winter schedule just comprised the usual KLM Cityhopper Amsterdam and Eastern Airways Aberdeen routes.

 

However on January 12th Humberside Airport received some significant good news. A new seat only tour operator, jetXtra.com announced they would offer twice weekly charter flights from Humberside to both Palma and Malaga between June and October, using the Spanish airline Albastar.

 

jetXtra.com made further headlines just a week later. On January 17th, jetXtra.com published a letter on their website which they had received from solicitors acting on behalf of Leeds Bradford Airport based jet2.com and jet2holidays.com. In this letter jetXtra.com were given until Thursday 19th January to surrender rights to the jetXtra name or face legal action. jetXtra were accused of passing off, giving the impression they were linked to Jet 2 and Jet 2 Holidays due to the Jet prefix to their name. This was a particular issue for Jet 2 as their operations from Leeds Bradford, Manchester and East Midlands Airport attract passengers from the Humber region.

 

jetXtra.com refused to surrender rights to their name and on Saturday 21st January the Civil Aviation Authority became involved. Until Jet 2 had decided on any possible legal action they ordered that no tickets may be sold under the jetXtra.com name using the ATOL license of CTT Group, who are involved with jetXtra. This meant that jetXtra had to cease ticket sales pending a resolution of the situation.

 

That was the jetXtra version of events anyway. The Civil Aviation Authority however disputed this. They told Travel Weekly that jetXtra had to suspend sales because CTT Group did not yet have permission to make sales under the jetXtra.com name on their ATOL license. Furthermore their ATOL license covered only 150 passengers during Summer 2012, not the 9000 jetXtra anticipated serving. jetXtra therefore gave up their planned operation for Summer 2012.

 

Also in January, Humberside Airport got a new Managing Director, with Simon Whitby, a former Operations Director at Humberside sister airport East Midlands, replacing Tony Lavan.

 

Hello Summer

 

Late March saw the start of the Summer season for scheduled services, not that it meant any difference for Humberside with Eastern Airways and KLM Cityhopper continuing as normal.

 

Spring brought some negative news as Icelandair Cargo suspended their Sunday evening fish flight from Iceland, leaving Humberside without any regular cargo services. A cargo charter flight from Cairo, operated by Meridian Aviation with UR-CGV, an Antonov AN12, was an exceptionally unusual occurrence on April 7th.

 

May 1st saw the start of the Summer charter season, with Pegasus Airlines returning to Humberside for the first time since 2009, operating a weekly Dalaman charter flight. As welcome as Pegasus were, their B737-800s were a capacity reduction from the B757-200s and B767-300ERs Thomas Cook Airlines had used on the service the previous year. A new airline to Humberside for 2012 was Aegean Airlines, replacing Fly Hellas on the weekly Heraklion charter flight for Olympic Holidays.

 

On a negative note however, Thomson Holidays withdrew their remaining Palma charter flight for Summer 2012, having offered holidays from Humberside since the 1992 runway extension. Thomas Cook Holidays also cancelled their Antalya service, and Olympic Holidays their Larnaca service. This left Humbersides charter programme as follows (supplemented by various one off special departure flights):

 

Tuesday:

  • Pegasus Airlines to Dalaman - B737-800 - Airtours, Thomas Cook - 1st May 26th June and 24th July to 18th September
  • Aegean Airlines to Heraklion - Olympic Holidays - 29th May to 18th September

 Saturday:

  • Thomas Cook Airlines to Palma - Airtours, Thomas Cook - 2nd June to 15th September

 Sunday:

  • BH Air to Bourgas - A320 - Balkan Holidays - 20th May to 23rd September

A Change of Ownership

 

August 2nd 2012 was arguably one of the most important days in Humberside Airports history, as it was announced that Manchester Airport Group (MAG) had sold their 82.7% shareholding in Humberside to the Eastern Group, parent company of Humberside based Eastern Airways. The deal, completed the previous day, was trailed as securing the airports future, with a new majority shareholder that could focus on Humberside Airport, as opposed to Humberside being managed as part of a larger airport group. The existing airport management was retained, and Eastern Group Chairman Bryan Huxford called the deal a strategic financial investment, noting the airport has potential for growth.

 

The price of the deal was not formally disclosed but a report on the Bolton Council website indicated that an offer had been made to MAG of circa 2.3 million for their stake in Humberside Airport. If this was the sale price, it meant MAG had suffered a significant financial loss on their investment in Humberside, having paid 10 million for their shareholding in 1999, and then invested over 7 million.

 

The Bolton Council report revealed that MAG did not view Humberside Airport as a core asset and that it was not intended to form part of their longer term asset base. It was taking up a disproportionate amount of senior management time, relative to its size within MAG. Financially Humberside Airport had a short term cash funding requirement of 3 million over the next 3 years, and a defined benefit pension scheme with an estimated 6.6 million deficit as of September 2011. For the year ending 31st March 2012, earnings before interests, taxed, depreciation and amortisation were forecast to be 100,000, with an earnings before interests and tax (EBIT) loss forecast of 400,000 (though an improvement on the 700,000 EBIT loss in the previous financial year).

 

North Lincolnshire Council retained their 17.3% shareholding, viewing the airport as an important asset for the area, and with potential to develop the business park. The council also agreed to exchange a 1.04 million loan for preference shares of an equivalent value. Humberside Airport employees were also transferred to the North Lincolnshire Council section of the East Riding Pension Fund on termination of the scheme, with costs being met by MAG.

 

The Eastern Era

 

Despite the new owners, the first the big news of the Eastern Era came from MAG, as they released their 2011-12 annual report accounts. As their financial year is April to March, they still included details of Humbersides performance. Despite a fall in passenger numbers, aviation income per passenger increased from 11.30 to 13 year on year. Commercial income (excluding property) per passenger also rose 30p to 9.30 while operating costs per passenger fell 30p to 24. Overall revenues were flat at 6.6 million.

 

Late September brought a spell of good news announcements. The main one was the putting on sale of weekly charter flights to Alicante and Palma with Low Cost Holidays for Summer 2013. This is a new tour operator for Humberside, and reinstates the Alicante route last served by Ryanair in 2011.

 

Further news came from Thomas Cook Holidays; when they initially released their Summer 2013 programme earlier in the year no flights from Humberside were on sale, creating an expectation the tour operator had withdrawn from Humberside. However in late September the operator re-instated their weekly Palma and Dalaman flights for Summer 2013. Following up this September news, a weekly Summer 2013 Enfidha (Tunisia) charter was added by Thomas Cook in early October.

 

Combined with Low Cost Holidays announcement this meant the airport could be looking forward to a growth next Summer, despite the expected loss of Olympic Holidays weekly Heraklion flight.

 

Into Winter

 

The Winter 2012-13 season was once again a quiet one for Humberside Airport, with no regular weekly charter flights and just the usual Aberdeen and Amsterdam charter flights. One slight positive was a number of extra day trips in December, including two to Cologne organised by the airport travel agency, Humberside Airport Travel.

 

November brought the announcement that from January 2013, Bond Helicopters would open a base at Humberside to service a new contract with Perenco Oil and Gas, creating up to 15 jobs.

 

End of Year

 

Civil Aviation Authority data shows Humberside handled 153,189 scheduled passengers in 2012, and 80,400 charter passengers for a total off 233,589 annual passengers, down a disappointing 14% on 2011. 621 tonnes of freight were handled, down 45% on the previous year.

 

Domestically the Eastern Airways Aberdeen service served 35,631 passengers in 2012; including a small number of charter passengers this was a welcome 8% increase on 2011. The Flybe Summer Saturday Jersey service transported 2,178 customers, up 1% year on year.

 

Internationally the key KLM Amsterdam service had 114,385 passengers, a 4% fall from 2011. The weekly Summer Heraklion charter served 5,908 customers, up 14% year on year, however Palma saw 57% fall with 4,679 passengers recorded. Dalaman also recorded a large fall, seeing 59% fewer passengers compared to 2011, with a total of 6,469 making it Humbersides busiest charter route in 2012. The biggest year on year increase amongst regular charter flights was the Bourgas route, which served 6,270 passengers in 2012, an 83% increase.

 

Finally helicopters traffic to North Sea Oil and Gas Rigs accounted for 52,235 passengers in 2012, an increase of below 1%. Humberside returned to being the UKs second busiest heliport in 2012 after a fall in helicopter passengers at Norwich.

 

Sources

Bolton Council Report: Manchester Airport Group Decision to dispose of shares in Humberside Airport Confirmation of urgent action accessed via Bolton Council Committee Management Information System http://www.democracy.bolton.gov.uk/cmis5/Home.aspx

Bond Aviation Group Press Release: Bond Offshore Helicopters awarded new contract with Perenco Oil and Gas http://www.bondaviationgroup.com/media/press-story?story=2090

Civil Aviation Authority Website

Humberside Airport Press Release: MAG sells its stake in Humberside Airport to Eastern Group - http://www.humbersideairport.com/huyweb.nsf/Content/maghumbersideairport

jetXtra.com Press Release: Established Airline attempts to block jetXtra.com launch - http://www.jetxtra.com/News3.html

jetXtra.com Press Release: jetXtra.com sales temporarily suspended due to Jet2.com legal threats - http://www.jetxtra.com/News4.html

Manchester Airport Group: Annual Reports and Accounts - http://www.manchesterairport.co.uk/manweb.nsf/Content/AnnualReportsAndAccountsArchive

North Lincolnshire Council: The Leader of the Council Minutes 1 August 2012 - http://www.northlincs.gov.uk/councilanddemocracy/cabinet/cabinet-minutes/leader-regeneration/the-leader-of-the-council-minutes-1-august-2012/

Travel Weekly: CAA orders JetXtra to halt ticket sales - http://www.travelweekly.co.uk/Articles/2012/01/23/39367/jetxtra+forced+to+stop+selling+tickets+by+the+caa.html

 

Review last updated 15th March 2013


 

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