Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Airfreight Movements Up At Schiphol Despite Volcanic Ash

Aviation Income Down But Overall Net Earnings Up
Shipping News Feature

NETHERLANDS – Time was when the only factors that affected the fiscal performance of an airport were aviation related. Nowadays there are other items to factor into the financial equation no matter how many passengers or how much air freight cargo passes down the runways.

Schiphol is the 14th largest freight and passenger airport in the world and despite the well documented woes caused by the Icelandic ash cloud, cargo tonnage rose in the first half of 2010 by over 20% to almost 720,000 tonnes. Despite this analysis of the interim first half results compared to last year show a drop in revenue of €12 million, a fall which the Schiphol Group say was due both to the ash crisis and the lowering, and subsequent freezing, of airport charges.

New security system installations ate into Schiphol’s figures but the real estate and consumer business ends held up reasonably well and a one off write in related to the JFK IAT transaction fed another €17 million into the balance sheet. Schiphol President & CEO Jos Nijhuis commented:

"We are reasonably satisfied with the results achieved. The organisational change programme is going according to plan. Despite the negative effects of the ash cloud, there is net growth in the number of passengers and in cargo volumes. Our consumer revenue growth has outpaced growth in number of passengers. Spend per passenger is increasing as well. The quality of the rental income from our first class real estate portfolio is stable and the unrealised fair value losses appear to be bottoming out.

"We are not happy with the losses in Aviation. We are currently in discussion with our customers to seek a solution that gets us to a reasonable positive return whereby the tariff structure of our airport charges should support the continued development of the Main Port."

So reading between the lines it seems to be the airports intention to raise charges when and where possible but with keen competition throughout Europe for international traffic, plus the fact that several budget airlines have already switched to alternative, and more cost effective airports, Schiphol may have to settle with their recent comparative success,