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New hangars at Airport to attract private clients

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NEW hangars are to be installed at the Airport to provide more space for private aircraft.

Ports of Jersey chief executive Doug Bannister said the project, involving 60,000 square feet of space, together with additional community hangar space next to the Gama Aviation facility, would be under way within the next six to 12 months.

Speaking at a presentation to the business community, Mr Bannister said there was 'good market potential' for Ports in providing services to the high-net-worth sector.

The briefing at the Pomme d'Or Hotel focused on the first annual report since the Island's Harbours and Airport were incorporated as a States-owned company in October 2015.

Chief financial officer Andrew Boustouler said that EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) fell last year by £1.2m, from £11.9m in 2015 to £10.7m in 2016, although turnover of £43m for 2016 was comparable to the previous year.

Half of the company's income is provided by Harbours and Airport fees, but since incorporation costs now include regulation, IT licence fees, legal fees, audit charges, rates and taxes.

New income has come from expanding business at the Airport fuel farm and hiring out the States tug and marine services equipment for commercial projects.

Mr Boustouler said capital expenditure costs totalled £9.8 last year, including the new cargo centre (£1.5m), air traffic control contingency (£1.4m), the new Les Platons radar dome (£1.2m) and refurbishment of the Airport heating and ventilation systems (£700,000).

Mr Bannister said that freight volume coming through the Harbour last year was the highest to date and likely to go up again this year, as it had been a good potato season.

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However, the volume of fuel had been down over the winter because of the milder weather.

In terms of tourism, Mr Bannister said that 50% of German visitor numbers had been lost as a result of structural changes within Air Berlin. However, demand was still strong, he said, with Flybe's Dusseldorf flights sold out. 'It is a constant challenge to retain routes – Jersey is not a base location and we have to fit in with the carriers,' he explained.

Safety and regulation were also challenging for the company, he added. 'We are probably the most highly regulated business, with the longest opening hours.' He said that few commercial businesses required emergency services, including the Airport five service and Search and Rescue.

Chairman Charles Clarke said that changing the culture of a public sector organisation to a commercially-minded company was akin to changing the course of an oil tanker. 'It can only be altered slowly. The key thing is that we do not have to go back to the the States for more funding.'

Mr Clarke added that although it was now a commercial enterprise, Ports had retained its Public Service Obligation (PSO) for the Coastguard service, as well as maintenance of the historic harbours. 'We did not just take the good bits – we took on the whole thing,' he said.

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