UK air traffic control company announces profits fall

Air traffic control company Nats today announced a dip in profits and a rise in flight delays.

Nats reported a pre-tax profit for the year ending March 31, 2008 of £66.7m (€84m) compared with a figure of £94.4m (€118.9m) for 2006/07.

The company, formerly known as National Air Traffic Services, said delays attributable to Nats rose from 22.6 seconds a flight in 2006/07 to 26.8 seconds in 2007/08.

The number of flights receiving no Nats-attributable delays in 2007/08 was 97.5% compared with 97.7% the year before.

Nats chief executive Paul Barron said the decrease in profits was expected and reflected the closure of the West Drayton control centre near Heathrow and relocating the operation and staff to the Swanwick Centre in Hampshire, and the cost of redeeming shareholder loans.

He went on: "Our results are very creditable given the costs of the West Drayton transition.

"We also maintained our operational performance in another year of record traffic volumes and throughout the West Drayton transfer. This major project has taken four years to plan and was delivered on time and within budget, enabling us to be leaner, more efficient and more flexible in the future."

Mr Barron outlined the company's three-year business strategy, launched earlier this year and which includes - for the first time - stretching environmental targets.

He said: "We are the first air traffic control provider to set tough targets for ourselves, and we have committed to uniting the industry to reducing by 10%, on average, the amount of CO2 emitted by aircraft while under our control by 2020.

"It won't be easy but we have the commitment and expertise in the company to achieve it. This is new territory for our sector and I believe we can be a catalyst for others."

Nats handled more than 2.47 million flights in 2007/08 compared with 2.04 million the previous year.

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