LOSSES have soared and passenger numbers fallen for the group that owns Liverpool John Lennon Airport (JLA).
Figures released by Peel Airports Group show that annual losses rose from £3.2m in 2011 to £11.4m this year.
Meanwhile, statistics for the nine months to September reveal that 620,000 fewer passengers have used JLA, compared with levels the previous year.
However, closer examination shows that the deeper financial losses were due to the group writing down the value of Durham Tees Valley Airport, which it sold earlier this year, resulting in a one-off £8.8m cost.
And, looking at JLA in isolation, it managed to increase revenues from £31.6m to £33.3m and earnings before charges from £10.3m to £11.4m.
The fall in passenger numbers is mainly due to airlines, such as easyJet and Ryanair, cutting routes and frequencies in response to the economic downturn and the impact of the Air Passenger Duty tax on flight tickets which has affected international and domestic flights.
Another factor was the complete withdrawal of Dutch airline KLM from JLA in March. In the same nine month period last year KLM handled 94,000 passengers, so their absence at the airport has severely dented passenger statistics.
However, JLA is confident it can still hold on to its placing in the top 10 UK airports.
And Peel Airports Group head Craig Richmond said earlier this month that he is confident business will pick up and revealed he is in talks over a possible transatlantic service between the city and Toronto, in Canada.
A Peel Airports spokesman said the fall in passenger numbers was anticipated: “It is a continuing trend we have seen and known about that reflects changes in the summer schedules.
“The important thing is the future. Ryanair has brought more business and we are hopeful of further positive news in the near future.”
He added: “Having continued to invest in facilities at Liverpool during the last financial year we have been able to increase turnover and operating profit, despite a difficult economic climate.”