Senior Councillors look set to back increase in charges to tackle airport deficit

SENIOR Pembrokeshire councillors are expected to back a series of charge increases to tackle an expected deficit of £180,000 at Haverfordwest airport.

After an improved financial position in recent years, the position deteriorated in 2022/23 as a result of a combination of factors including volatility in the fuel market, a report for members of Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet states.

The report, to be considered by the July 3 meeting of the Cabinet, says the out-turn position for 2022/23 was £238,000, with a deficit of £180,000 expected for this year.

In budget savings at its March meeting, the county council agreed to a list of ‘green’ savings, which included a budget of £90,000 for the airport, based on the projected out-turn figure for 2022/23.

The report states: “However, [as outlined] the actual out-turn was £238,000, albeit some of this (circa £75,000) was for one-off costs associated with tree maintenance, sewer blockages, and fuel spillage and hangar door repairs.

“Based on an average or ‘normal’ year and reflecting the inflationary pressures experienced over the last 18 months, the likely budget deficit for the current year is circa £180,000.”

The report lists a series of proposed changes to charges and costs, estimated to generate some £232,000.

The largest single source of revenue, fuel, would net some £175,000 on its own, the report says, by increasing the existing mark up of Avgas by 55p per litre and jet fuel by 45p a litre.

The largest income line at the airport is aviation fuel; in 2022/23 this totalled £473,000.

The airport sells approximately 350,000 litres of jet and 50,000 litres of Avgas per year, and currently has the cheapest jet fuel of comparable airports, and one of the cheapest Avgas rates.

In the last few months inspections have also identified two critical pieces of infrastructure in need of replacement:  aerodrome ground lighting, at a cost of £450-£500,000, and a fuel storage tank, at an estimated cost of £200,000.

The report adds: “In terms of a way forward for addressing these maintenance and infrastructure upgrades, an opportunity exists to submit a business case for UK government funded seedcorn capital allowance (£25m) to support the Celtic Freeport.”

Amongst a list of recommendations Cabinet members are recommended to agree the seedcorn capital bid for infrastructure improvements be submitted as part of the Celtic Freeport Outline Business Case, and to approve a schedule of revised and new charges.

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