3 October

Cardiff Airport achieves further passenger growth and first positive EBITDA in eight years

Cardiff Airport has reported on a pivotal year for Wales’ national Airport in the financial year ending March 2018. With an increase of 9% in passenger numbers, the Airport has also strengthened its financial position to post a positive EBITDA for the first time in eight years.

Passenger numbers stood at 1.488 million at the end of the financial year 2017-18, following 16% growth in 2016, which signifies almost 50% passenger growth since Cardiff Airport came under public ownership in 2013.

Passenger growth was achieved by adding new or increased flights to popular destinations including Madrid with Iberia Express, Guernsey with Blue Islands, both new airlines - plus Rome with Flybe and Faro with Ryanair among others. The frequency of flights also increased on core business and leisure services like Belfast City with Flybe, with twice daily return flights every weekday and increased flights to Spain with Vueling. KLM also increased capacity on the Cardiff-Amsterdam route by using an Embraer 175 aircraft.

With a continued focus to progress the company’s financial sustainability the Airport has achieved a positive EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) which is a measure of a company's operating performance.  This is the first time a positive result has been posted in eight years, improving the year on year result by £897,000.

Highlights for financial year 2017-18 include:

  • Passenger numbers grew by 9% year on year, on top of the 16% growth in 2016
  • Over 1.488 million passengers chose to fly from Cardiff in 2017-18
  • Achieved a positive EBITDA performance for the first time in 8 years
  • 2018 was the busiest year for 8 years – almost 50% growth since the change of ownership in 2013
  • Secured 5* Middle Eastern Carrier, Qatar Airways, which commenced operations in May 2018
  • Named the best UK airport (under 3 million passengers) by the Airport Operators’ Association
  • 2 new airlines – Iberia Express and Blue Island
  • 3 new destinations – Rome, Madrid and Guernsey
  • Enhanced facilities including; departures area, executive lounge, air bridge, car hire centre and meet & greet in time for Summer 2018
  • Continued to work with Visit Wales to attract inbound passengers to Wales and the Capital City, growing the number of passengers inbound to Wales from 24% last year to 30% in this reporting year
  • Supported ‘Team Wales’ in the hugely successful hosting of the UEFA Champions League Final in June 2017. Over the match weekend, Cardiff Airport welcomed both the Juventus and Madrid teams, 21,000 travelling Juventus fans and over 380 additional aircraft movements.

A significant achievement last year was the announcement of a new daily service to the Middle East which launched on 1st May 2018. The Qatar Airways service, which operates on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner connects Wales and the South West of England to key global markets across Australia, Africa and Asia via the hub at Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar.  

Roger Lewis, Chairman of Cardiff Airport, commented: “2017 was a pivotal year for Cardiff Airport, defined by a 9% increase in passenger numbers on top of 16% growth in 2016.

“Our focus was to significantly improve our business performance whilst simultaneously delivering the service expectations of our shareholder, stakeholders and customers. Subsequently we have strengthened the financial position of the company and we have enhanced the Airport’s reputation and standing. We have experienced continued growth, completed the planning for the commencement of a 5* Middle Eastern Carrier service, improved the customer experience and we have seen the Airport significantly and prominently considered in national and regional economic and integrated transport planning.

“That said, we acknowledge there is still much more for us to do, but I would highlight the continued success so far achieved by the Airport team and on behalf of the Board I would like to thank and congratulate them for their hard work and their achievements over the past 12 months.

We are focused on building upon this significantly improved financial performance in the current financial year 2018/19. We will achieve double digit growth and further enhance the passenger experience.”

Deb Barber, CEO of Cardiff Airport, added: “2017 has been a significant year of progress for Cardiff Airport. We’ve welcomed new airlines, added to the choice of destinations for our customers and invested even more into the terminal in order to enhance their experience.

“We have focussed on developing our people processes and HR systems, recognising the growth of our team and the important role they play in driving the company forward.”

“Delivering high standards of safety and regulatory compliance continues to be one of our key focuses. Working with the HSE, we have strengthened further our safety processes and procedures and have also maintained our focus on environmental sustainability.

“The business is growing stronger and we are well positioned to deliver on our vision and mission generating significant economic benefit to Wales.”

In July 2018 Cardiff Airport launched the draft Masterplan which set out the Airport’s vision to 2040 and ambitious plans to develop the Airport business over the next 20 years as a key gateway to the UK.  After reviewing feedback from the public engagement the final Masterplan is due to be released later in 2018. 

Highlights to date for financial year 2018-19:

  • New airline Qatar Airways launched a daily direct flight to Doha in May 2018, offering connections to key destinations via a Middle Eastern hub to Australia, China, South Africa, India, New Zealand and beyond 
  • Flybe began operating a new service to Venice from 27th March
  • Thomas Cook introduced a weekly flight to Antalya and a second weekly flight to Dalaman, starting 4 May 2018 and 25 May 2018 respectively
  • TUI added a flight to Antalya every Monday from 7th May 2018
  • Super Break operated a number of short break packages to destinations that include Seville and Iceland
  • The draft Masterplan was launched for a period of public engagement with the final version expected before the end of the year. 

Confirmed so far for financial year 2019-20: 

  • TUI to add another aircraft to the Cardiff base for Summer 2019, adding 100,000 seats and new services to Hurghada, Naples and Dubrovnik plus an extra flight to Mahon, Menorca
  • Ryanair are launching a twice weekly service to Malta from April 2019.