Speaking at the company’s annual review, chief executive officer Doug Bannister said the failure to reach agreement with the Channel Islands Competition and Regulatory Authorities could cause significant problems in the medium to long term, with its timetable for investments likely to be affected. He criticised the regulatory body, claiming it had misunderstood the cost of required investment projects.
Ports had asked CICRA for a 5.2 per cent increase in tariffs for 2018, reflecting a 2.16 per cent per annum rise for 2017 and 2018. This was to take into account the rising costs and critical investments needed and was to reflect the lack of price increases since 2016. Tariffs include Airport landing fees and marina charges.
As a result of the increase not being granted, Mr Bannister said: ‘We could not confidently say that we can fund the infrastructure investments we are required to make.’
CICRA chief executive Michael Byrne said Ports was regulated to ensure the company acted in the interests of the Island as a whole and the company had to justify any requests for price increases, which he said it had not.
‘We have not seen a convincing case for an increase at this stage but in the interests of the Island we will be working with Ports of Jersey and other key stakeholders to consider the long-term requirements of the business going forward,’ he said.
Despite the setback with increasing prices, Ports said it had made progress on all of its strategic objectives. A total of 2.3 million passengers travelled through Ports gateways in 2017, although numbers remain relatively static. The Airport saw a 17-year high, but sea passenger figures were still in decline.
Revenue grew by £2.9 million (6.6%) in 2017 due to a combination of traditional activities and new commercial ventures. However, costs had also risen in proportion to revenue, despite efficiencies through technological advancements. Operating costs increased 6.4% between 2016 and 2017, with the Harbours increasing 9.9% and Airport 4.4%.
Ports was currently undertaking work to improve the passenger experience at the Elizabeth Terminal, at a cost of £350,000, and plans for a £42-million future redevelopment of Jersey Airport were also continuing, Mr Bannister said.