Aeropark grounding dents Norwich International Airport profits with £439,000 blow

Norwich AeroPark plans

Norwich AeroPark plans - Credit: Supplied

The grounding of a £15m project to build an aeropark has dented the profits of Norwich International Airport to the tune of £439,000, it has emerged.

Hopes were high the project would get lift-off after the airport's previous owners struck a deal with Cambridge-based developers Wrenbridge in 2013.

But when Wrenbridge walked away from the project in January last year, the airport's new owners the Rigby Group took the decision to 'pause' progress.

In the airport's most recent accounts, it said a decision had been taken 'no longer to pursue the development'.

However despite this turnover edged up 2.3pc to £12.67m for the year ending March 31, 2015, and in a year which saw helicopter flight numbers remain flat, and a dip in travel agency sales, airport bosses stressed underlying profits were up 20pc.

They were also confident new flights to Exeter and summer sun destination routes to Spain would boost the bottom line.

And today bosses insisted the aeropark remained a 'core objective', and access provided by the Northern Distributor Road was 'key to unlocking the site's potential'.

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But they are remaining tight-lipped on whether they are looking into bringing in new partners to get the project off the ground.

The £439,000 cost caused pre-tax profits to drop to £154,000 for the year ending March 31 last year, down from £481,000 in 2014.

And a decision to take the airport security department in-house incurred a £48,000 cost.

Passenger numbers were down 1pc to 466,131 for the same period, and the airport was further hit by the cancellation of TUI and Thomas Cook Tunisia services mid-way through summer 2015 due to terrorist attacks.

The airport spokesman said: 'The summer sun flights and the new Exeter flight, coupled with the existing high-frequency services to other key destinations and new holiday destinations, are expected to drive an increase in passenger numbers.'

In 2013 the airport announced plans to build an aviation hub which would create more than 1,000 jobs with the first stage to build five new hangars for aircraft painting firm Air Livery.

The spokesman said putting the development on hold was due to difficulty in funding the development and necessary infrastructure, and discussions were ongoing to satisfy their demands for space elsewhere in the airport.

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