NATS Holdings Limited – Results for the year ended 31 March 2019

28 June 2019

NATS Holdings Limited (NATS) today announced its results for the year ended 31 March 2019.

Financial year ended 31 March 2019 2018
Financial highlights:
Revenue – £m 885.7 913.1
Profit before tax – £m 98.2 132.8
Capital expenditure – £m 156.5 185.6
Net debt1 – £m 73.9 71.5
Gearing2 – (%) 25.7% 27.5%
Dividends3 – £m 59.0 57.0
Operational highlights:
Flights handled (millions) 2.54 2.52
Safety: risk-bearing Airprox4 (attributable to NATS) 0 0
Delay seconds per flight (en route delay attributable to NATS for calendar years 2018 and 2017) 12.5 6.2
Enabled cumulative % reduction in CO2 emissions (average per flight against a 2006 baseline) 6.9% 6.4%
Notes
1. Excludes derivative financial instruments.
2. Ratio of the net debt (as defined by NERL’s Licence) to regulatory assets of the economically regulated business.
3. Paid in financial year. In May 2019 the company paid an interim dividend for the year ending 31 March 2019 of £30.0m.
4. An Airprox is a situation in which, in the opinion of a pilot or a controller, the distance between aircraft as well as their relative positions and speed have been such that the safety of the aircraft involved was or may have been compromised.

CEO, Martin Rolfe said:
“This was an excellent year for service performance with the delivery of a safe and resilient ATC service, every day, against a backdrop of growing traffic and while introducing complex new technology into our terminal control operation.

“We safely handled 2.54 million flights in the year, which was a record volume for the UK, and represented just under 25% of all flights in Europe. While doing this, we completed the deployment of electronic flight strips, a major new electronic system which replaced a paper system. This followed a complex transition plan that we developed with airlines and airports to minimise the impact on their operations, and we received very positive feedback on the manner and timing of this deployment.

“Our average delay per flight (for the 2018 calendar year) was 12.5 seconds, and included 4.8 seconds of delay specifically associated with this transition. In spite of this our performance was five times better than the average delays experienced elsewhere across Europe.

“Our objective is to continue to deliver one of the best levels of service performance in Europe and during the year we submitted a plan to CAA for the next five years (Reference Period 3 or RP3) which we believe would achieve this. We are currently engaging with CAA on its proposals for RP3 and we expect to see their final plan later this summer.

“We also made good progress in developing the infrastructure that will support London City Airport’s future digital tower service and we have started to use space-based surveillance to monitor flights across the North Atlantic, which is the first oceanic region to have the ability to do so.

“The group reported a profit before tax of £98.2m (2018: £132.8m) which was £34.6m less than the prior year. This mainly reflected real price reductions to our en route customers, and investment in additional staff to meet the growth in air traffic volumes and to progress our technology change and airspace programmes.”

Chairman, Dr. Paul Golby said:
“The Government’s Aviation Green Paper sets out an ambitious plan for the future of UK aviation. Published alongside this was our technical feasibility study into airspace modernisation in the South of England recognising the importance of airspace change and our role in delivering it. We have been commissioned by the Department for Transport and the CAA to create and maintain a strategic masterplan of airspace change out to 2040 and to create the Airspace Change Organising Group to lead this change programme. This group comprising individuals from NATS, airports and airlines, will design and manage a collaborative programme which will deliver airspace change, delivering further capacity for those wishing to fly, mitigating noise impacts on overflown communities and reducing CO2 emissions from aviation.

“Last summer we consulted customers on our plan for RP3 to deliver a safe, high quality and resilient service 24/7 with higher traffic and at lower prices than in RP2, including our role in the modernisation of UK airspace and upgrading our air traffic management service. These will be enabled by the completion of the largest and most complex technology upgrade that we or any of our European counterparts have previously undertaken. These aims were shared across our industry and were strongly supported during our consultation with customers.

“The CAA has published its draft proposals for the UK’s National Performance Plan for RP3. In our response to the CAA we have provided constructive input on how to achieve the strategic objectives the aviation industry requires while continuing to deliver excellent service performance which is amongst the most cost efficient in Europe.”

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