NATS Holdings Limited – Results for the year ended 31 March 2023

30 June 2023

NATS Holdings Limited (NATS) today announced its results for the year ended 31 March 2023.

Financial year ended 31 March 2023 2022
Financial highlights:
Revenue and regulatory allowances – £m 930.0 749.8
Profit before tax – £m 148.5 8.7
Debt-adjusted cash inflow/(outflow)1 – £m 58.1 (241.1)
Capital expenditure – £m 113.7 100.1
Net debt2 – £m 803.6 849.5
Gearing3 – (%) 52.3% 60.1%
Dividends – £m nil nil
Operational highlights:
Flights handled (millions) 2.24 1.29
Safety: risk-bearing Airprox4 (attributable to NATS) 0 0
Delay seconds per flight (en route delay attributable to NATS for calendar years 2022 and 2021) 10.2 0.3


  1. Post-tax free cash flows after debt interest but excluding the proceeds of bonds issued, the cost of bonds redeemed and repayments or drawings of borrowing facilities. This alternative performance measure is explained in the annual report and accounts of NATS Holdings Limited.
  2. Excludes derivative financial instruments.
  3. Ratio of net debt (as defined by NERL’s Licence) to regulatory assets of the economically regulated business.
  4. An Airprox is a situation in which the safety of the aircraft was or may have been compromised in the opinion of a pilot or a controller.

2022/23 financial year key points

Flights recovered strongly after the lifting of travel restrictions in March 2022.  NATS handled 2.24 million flights, which was a 75% increase on the prior year. NATS’ planning for recovery, whereby it retained critical skills and delivered simulation training, enabled it to support a safe regeneration and meet all of its safety targets.

NATS reported a profit of £148.5m, with a debt adjusted cash flow of £58.1m (see note 1 above).  As for the prior year, the result includes an assessment of regulatory allowances for the Covid revenue shortfall which are being determined by the CAA’s retrospective reconciliation of revenue and costs.

While the result this year reflects the start of the sector’s recovery after the Covid pandemic, as for the results of the last two years, it is not yet supported by the equivalent level of debt-adjusted cash flow generation.  This is because Covid suppressed flight volumes and income receipts.

NATS expects that, for the regulatory allowances outstanding, the CAA will require their recovery over 10-years from 2023 to support the sector’s recovery. NATS has financed accordingly with borrowings aligned with recovery of these allowances. The final step of NERL’s refinancing was completed during the year, with the issue of a further £145m of bonds repayable in 2033.

In October 2022, the CAA published its initial proposals for the NR23 price control. While the CAA recognises the challenge NATS faced during Covid, NATS in its response has highlighted its concern about material elements of their initial proposals. NATS has reiterated the importance of a price control with appropriate resources to deliver the NR23 plan which supports the increased traffic forecasts and the service customers have requested now and in the future. The CAA’s decision is expected in summer 2023.

CEO, Martin Rolfe said:

“It was a welcome relief to see air traffic volumes recover strongly last summer following the lifting of Covid travel restrictions. We had made a conscious decision during the pandemic to retain the essential skills to support the recovery.  This meant we were able to ramp our operation back up very quickly and safely support the level of demand.

Our result this year also reflected the start of the sector’s recovery after the Covid pandemic but, as with the results of the two previous years, it is not yet supported by the equivalent level of cash flows on a debt-adjusted basis. Given its scale, we expect that the CAA will require the income shortfall we experienced during Covid to be recovered over an extended 10-year period.

We are committed to a net zero estate by 2035 with near-term science-based targets and a strategic objective to be carbon negative by 2040.  We are also playing our part to support UK aviation to decarbonise by 2050. We recently modernised the airspace route network over South West England and Wales, which will enable more fuel efficient flight planning across one of the UK’s busiest air intersections for international flights.”

Chairman, Dr. Paul Golby said:

“NATS exists to ensure the skies are a safe and efficient environment for aviation. Our priority from the start of the year, which we delivered, was to support the safe return of air traffic as Covid travel restrictions were lifted.

In October 2022 the CAA published its initial proposals for NERL’s next five-year price control, as well as its retrospective reconciliation for calendar years 2020 to 2022. It is essential that the CAA’s final decision later this summer provides the resources necessary to support the sector’s recovery and for sustainable investment in the UK’s ATC infrastructure and recovery of the costs we incurred to provide a continuous ATC service during Covid.

I have been encouraged by the company’s approach to developing a diverse and inclusive place to work.  Our people play an essential role in everything we do. We want our employees to feel valued and able to fulfil their potential in a workplace where their contribution is recognised and rewarded.  Success is critical for attracting future talent and achieving our ambition to be a Top 25 employer.”

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