LJLA records its first pre-tax profit as post-pandemic recovery continues

Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LJLA) has recorded its first pre-tax profit.

In a Companies House filing it revealed the airport – owned by Manchester property group Peel (47.1%), London asset manager Snowball Holdings Bidco (47.1%) and Liverpool City Council (5.8%) – made a £4.54m pre-tax profit for the year to March 31, 2023, compared with a £4.8m pre-tax loss the previous year.

The airport has previously made operating profits, but not a pre-tax surplus.

Revenues more than doubled in the reporting period, to £35.66m.

Passenger numbers also more than doubled, from 1.6 million in 2022 to 3.7 million as the travel industry recovered from long lockdown periods caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

LJLA anticipates it will break the five million-passenger milestone for the first time in the next year or two, as its appeal to North West customers increases, evidenced in a survey by consumer magazine Which? in August this year that crowned the airport the best in the UK, while neighbour Manchester was branded the nation’s worst performing organisation.

Liverpool will benefit from an influx of customers following a decision in May this year by Leeds-based holidays and airline group Jet2.com to open a hub at LJLA, creating 200 jobs.

The UK’s largest tour operator and third largest airline immediately put 20 sunshine destinations on sale for Summer ’24 from LJLA, in response to enormous demand from customers and independent travel agents across the region.

And earlier this month, Jet2.com announced its summer 2025 schedule from LJLA, leading to an increase to five Liverpool-based planes in only its second summer season since it began operating from the site.

Notes in the directors’ report said: “The pace of the group’s recovery was generally more dynamic than full larger airports and hubs, due to the airport’s agile response to the easing of travel restrictions and its ability to return very quickly to normal operating practices.”

LJLA has also repaid a £30m loan to Liverpool City Combined Authority, to help it through the pandemic period, after the business completed a £42m refinancing in March this year with NatWest and Lloyds Bank.

Notes in the accounts said: “This refinancing should put the airport on a secure financial footing for the next five years.”

The directors’ report said: “The easing of COVID-19-related travel restrictions in the UK and across Europe in early 2022 had a positive impact on business performance and the business was able to make a strong recovery from the pandemic, however, passenger numbers remained below pre-pandemic levels.

“The company continues to focus on providing passengers with a high quality, cost-effective service to low cost and charter airlines.

“The business is focused on improving the passenger experience and improvements in non-aero revenue ensuring that there continues to be adequate capacity to meet the growth in demand and creating the platform for profitable returns in the future. Costs are continually being managed closely.”