NATS sees marginal profit boost amid investment in UTM

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The UK air traffic management service provider, NATS, has reported an increase in profit, despite its focus of investments over the last 12-month period.

This year the group reported a profit before tax of £132.8m, up from £125.5m in 2017, after charging £11m for goodwill impairment, for the year ending March 31 2018. Excluding goodwill impairment, the result was slightly lower than last year.

While NATS reports a marginal increase for the 12-month period, it is due to goodwill impairment and investment in Aireon.

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While the company posts a boost in profit, it confirms a dip in turnover. For the year ending March 31 2018 the organisation had a turnover of £913.1m, down almost £6 from 2017, which posted £919.3m.

The organisation invested £69m (£50m) in Aireon, an American company pioneering a space-based air traffic surveillance service with plans to revolutionise the aviation industry.

AireonSM will monitor the location of automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) equipped aircraft flying anywhere in the world, through a network of 66 low Earth orbiting Iridium NEXT satellites.

The additional revenue NATS received from air traffic growth was offset by price reductions for its airline customers as well as a reassessment of earnings from the MOD’s Project Marshall asset provision contract and higher operating costs.

CEO, Martin Rolfe said: “During the year, we obtained support from our customers for a revised technology and airspace investment plan until the end of 2019. This focuses on developing new technology enabling us to move away more quickly from current systems.

“We are now consulting customers on our initial Business Plan for the next regulatory reference period (2020 to 2024) which will modernise and transform our business.

“We made great strides in two areas of advanced technology that will redefine air traffic management. We invested in Searidge Technologies, a Canadian provider of smart digital tower technology. We also made a strategic investment in Aireon, which is creating a global satellite-based air traffic surveillance service capable of tracking and monitoring aircraft in real-time. This will provide safety, capacity and fuel saving benefits to customers flying across the North Atlantic.”

Last year, NATS Controllers handled 500,000 flights through North Atlantic airspace, comprising 80% of all transatlantic traffic, and by 2030 industry estimates expect that to grow to almost 800,000 flights.

Tags : AireonATMdronesNATSUTM
Emma Calder

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