Liverpool Airport back in profit as revenues hit £35m

Liverpool Airport reports first profit since the pandemic as revenues more than double to £35m and it is able to repay a £30m loan to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority. Tony McDonough reports

Passengers board a Ryanair aircraft at Liverpool John Lennon Airport


Liverpool John Lennon Airport is reporting a pre-tax profit of £4.54m for the 12 months to March 31, 2023, after revenues more than doubled to £35.66m

It is the first time LJLA has been in profit since COVID-19. During the pandemic the airport was hit badly by long periods of lockdown. In the two years of COVID it reported pre-tax losses of £12m and £4.87m. 

In its latest accounts, just posted on Companies House, the airport, reveals passenger numbers for its fiscal year totalled 3.8m. This is against 1.6m the previous year and represents a 79% recovery from the COVID slump when the fell to just over 500,000.

Passenger numbers for the year prior to COVID were 4.8m and LJLA now says it expects this figure to exceed 5m a year over the next year or so thanks to the arrival of Jet2 in summer 2024.

In the accounts it 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.

“… upon commencement of the Jet2 operation, the number of based aircraft at the airport is expected to be 15, which is three more than than in 2020, and takes the airport back to its peak 2008 levels.”

During the six weeks of the school summer holidays this year the airport, run by chief executive John Irving, carried 635,000 passengers – its busiest for four years.

Passenger numbers over the school holiday period were 22% higher than last year due to a number of new and additional flights. Friday, August 18, was the busiest day with more than 16,000 passengers handled.

Airlines operating out of LJLA. Include easyJet, Ryanair, Lufthansa, PLAY, Wizz Air and Aer Lingus with multiple extra routes having been added this year.

While budget carriers such as easyJet and Ryanair offer multiple destinations in Europe  Lufthansa, Aer Lingus and PLAY offer links to North America and the rest of the world. Next summer will be even busier with the arrival for the first time of Jet2.

In March this year the airport refinanced its debts, agreeing a five-year £42m facility with NatWest and Lloyds Bank. This agreement allowed it to immediately repay an outstanding debt of £30m to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

In March 2022 LJLA agreed a deal with the Combined Authority to defer repayment for another 12 months. It had secured a £34m lifeline loan in the summer of 2020 at the height of the pandemic.

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

It added: “Based on current plans for the coming year, continued recovery from the global COVID-19 pandemic for the aviation industry as a whole and the group in particular remains positive.


Liverpool John Lennon Airport
Departure gate at Liverpool Airport which is seeing an increasing number of passengers
Jet2 and Jet2 Holidays will start flying from Liverpool in spring 2024


“The airport has recently announced new operations with Jet2 and Lufthansa, both of which bring significant incremental passenger growth and positive financial benefits.

“Once this growth has realised passenger levels are expected to reach 5m per annum in line with pre-COVID levels which further illustrates the strong recovery experienced by the airport.”

According to the accounts, at March 31 this year the airport directly employed 159 people. This was up from 144 the previous year but below the 196 pre-COVID. Hundreds more work at the airport for other employers.

During the fiscal year, LJLA’s highest-paid director was paid a total of £362,000 during the year, including salary and pension contributions.

READ MORE: Jet2 announces extra routes from Liverpool

Liverpool Airport’s parent company is Liverpool Airport (Intermediate) No 1 Ltd. The two biggest shareholders in the business are property and ports giant Peel and Snowball Holdings Bidco (a London-based asset manager previously known as Ancala). Each holds a 47.1% stake.

Liverpool City Council owns a 5.8% stake in the airport. As recently as September 2019 the authority owned a 20% stake. At that point it sold half of its shareholding for £19m, a big profit on its original investment of £2m.

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