Business Irish

Sunday 23 October 2016

Aer Lingus Regional operator lost €13m in 2014

Published 14/01/2016 | 02:30

Chairman of Stobart Air Sean Brogan
Chairman of Stobart Air Sean Brogan

Turnover at the Irish company behind Stobart Air, the carrier that operates the Aer Lingus Regional service, jumped 24pc to €127.3m in 2014, new accounts for the business show.

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But the firm, Everdeal Holdings, made a €13.5m operating loss, primarily as a result of increased leasing costs, as well as €4m of certain onerous contract costs. That compared to a €19.2m loss in 2013.

It also incurred costs of over €200,000 in 2014 for closing its Shannon base, which it terminated on January 5 last year with the loss of about 20 weekly flights, the accounts show. However, last March Stobart Air announced that it was returning to Shannon from June with a reduced level of service.

Most of the turnover generated by Everdeal reflects the Aer Lingus Regional service, but Stobart Air also provides franchised flying for UK-based regional airline FlyBe.

Despite the loss in 2014, Stobart Air chief executive Sean Brogan told staff before Christmas that the business was profitable in 2015.

He said that 2015 had been a "decisive year" for the company.

"Our routes are performing well, our passenger numbers are strong, and our focus on growth is delivering on the bottom line," he said.

"IAG's takeover of Aer Lingus has afforded us greater stability, including access to a vastly expanded route network and a broader passenger base which will continue to deliver and support our own business ambitions."

Mr Brogan was a strong advocate of the €1.36bn takeover of Aer Lingus by IAG last year when it was being considered by the government.

Stobart Air also took delivery of two additional turboprop aircraft just before Christmas.

"The addition of these new aircraft will allow us to potentially grow our passenger numbers by a further 100,000 in the year ahead," added Mr Brogan.

Aer Lingus Regional, which comprises the bulk of Stobart Air's business, carried just over 1.3 million passengers in 2014, a figure which probably hit around 1.5 million last year.

Stobart previously set a target to carry two million passengers during 2016.

Its load factor, or percentage of available seats filled, was just 54pc in 2014, compared to 69pc in 2013. Revenue per available seat kilometre dipped to 14 cent from 15 cent. The cost per available seat fell to 10 cent from 11 cent.

Stobart Air is 45pc-owned by British transport group Stobart, with Invesco owning 42pc, and Cenkos Securities owning 8pc. Padraig O'Ceidigh, who was behind the Aer Arann brand that formed the basis of Stobart Air, owns 5pc.

The owners have also been considering the future of the airline, with options that could include a possible sale of the business.

In 2014, the company also secured contracts to operate two public service obligation routes, from Dublin to Donegal, and from Dublin to Kerry. They're heavily subsidised.

Everdeal had also heavily hedged its 2015 fuel position at the end of 2014.

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