Air Partner posts 2019 gross profit down 3.7% but signals brighter short-term outlook

Mike Stones

Global aviation services group Air Partner has reported gross profit down 3.7% to £34.2m for its financial year ended 31st January 2020, as uncertainly about Brexit and the UK election delayed spending. But the company made a “strong start” to its new financial year, with first-quarter unaudited underlying profit before tax of £6.0m.

Gross profit during the past financial year fell by 5.3%, on a like-for-like basis, adjusting for constant exchange and acquisitions. Group underlying profit before tax of £4.2m fell by 27.6%, due mainly to the fall in gross profit. Profit before tax of £0.9m, compared with £3.4m in the previous financial year, was said to be lower due to an impairment charge of £1.9m plus exceptional items and other items. Gross transaction value was down by 13.4% at £236.8m and revenue fell by nearly 14% to £66.7M.

The charter division was said to have experienced mixed performance, impacted by Brexit, the late UK election and the lack of a one-off event requiring urgent action. Group charter and freight were down by 5.1% and 34.7% respectively. The private jets division was up by 12.5%, driven by US performance.

‘Customers’ delayed spending’

Mark Briffa, Air Partner CEO, said: “While there was good strategic progress made over the last financial year, our performance was impacted by customers’ delaying spending as they waited for the uncertainty of, first, Brexit and then, the UK’s December election to clear. There were also no significant one-off events requiring urgent action in either H1 [first half] or H2 [second half], the absence of which is highly unusual in charter.”

The highlight of the year was the acquisition of the global aviation security solutions and training company Redline Assured Security, said Briffa. “Redline, which further progresses our diversification strategy by adding aviation security to our capabilities, thereby extending the portfolio of services and products we offer our customers,” he said.

‘Encouraging for June’

Turning to the current financial year, Briffa reported unusually high levels of activity in freight and group charter, and a significant decline in safety and security and private jets. “We are trading considerably ahead of budget for May and the forward order book is also encouraging for June, with demand for freight and group charter services remaining high. However, visibility beyond this point is currently limited.”

The Covid-19 global pandemic made it very hard to judge the impact of the crisis beyond the current emergency flying. That had prompted the company to preserve cash and maintain working capital.

“While there are undoubtedly challenges still to come, we have enjoyed a strong start to the current year and have the benefit of a well-diversified business, anchored by a great team of people, whom I would like to thank for their extraordinary efforts at this difficult time,” said Briffa.

 

Air Partner results January 2020 – at a glance

    -Gross Transaction Value: £236.8m (-13.4%)

    -Revenue: £66.7m (-13.9%)

    -Gross Profit: £34.2m (-3.7%)

    -Underlying Profit Before Tax: £4.2m (-27.6%)

    -Statutory Profit Before Tax: £0.9m (-73.5%).

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