Haverfordwest’s airport – expected to make a £180,000 loss, must be run as a ‘zero subsidy’ concern, senior councillors heard.

After an improved financial position in recent years, the position at the council-supported airport deteriorated in 2022/23, members of Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet heard at their July 3 meeting.

The out-turn position for 2022/23 was £238,000, with a deficit of £180,000 expected for this year.

A report for Cabinet members listed a series of proposed changes to charges and costs, estimated to generate some £232,000.

The largest single source of revenue, fuel, would net some £175,000 on its own, the report says, by increasing the existing mark up of Avgas by 55p per litre and jet fuel by 45p a litre.

In the last few months inspections have also identified two critical pieces of infrastructure in need of replacement: aerodrome ground lighting, at a cost of £450-£500,000, and a fuel storage tank, at an estimated cost of £200,000.

It is suggested these be addressed through a business case for UK government funded seedcorn capital allowance to support the Celtic Freeport.

Deputy Leader of Council, Cabinet Member for Place, the Region and Climate Change Cllr Paul Miller told fellow Cabinet members: “I am supportive of the airport being a working functioning airport in the county; however, I’m not closed to the view there are alternatives to how to work that airport.”

He added: What I’m not happy to do is continue to see revenue subsidies ploughed in; the airport must be run as a revenue-neutral site.”

He said the list of options proposed to keep the airport in the black included changes in fuel prices, which currently needed Cabinet approval, proposing they should be decided by delegated powers.

Moving the recommendations, he said: “The target here is to run a functioning airport with zero subsidies.”

Cabinet Member for Corporate Finance Cllr Alec Cormack said there was a strategic benefit to having a county airport, stressing: “But we do need to get it revenue neutral.”

He said a need for Cabinet to decide fuel costs “makes no sense at all”.

Cllr Miller finished by saying: “I think the council can operate it at a nil subsidy, I think we can. I think doing so strengthens our hand in doing other options, it’s a plan that feels like it has legs.”

Cabinet members agreed to the seedcorn capital bid for infrastructure improvements as part of the Celtic Freeport Outline Business Case, and the schedule of revised and new charges.