Liverpool's Capital of Culture status has led to Peel Holdings' John Lennon Airport making a profit for the first time.
The return, which will be published in company accounts later this year, represents a huge gain on last year's recorded pre-tax loss of £1.7m.
According to airport bosses, the city's increased European profile saw passenger numbers boosted by 9% between January 2007 – 2008, compared with the previous 12-month period, despite a number of key routes – including the London to Liverpool route – being lost in the last 12 months.
Until now, the Peel Airports group, which also includes Robin Hood Airport in Doncaster, Durham Tees Valley, near Middlesbrough, and Sheffield City Airport, has absorbed the losses. But Andrew Simpson, chief executive of Peel Holdings claims that he expects JLA to return a maiden profit this year.
Robin Tudor, JLA's spokesman said: "We fully expect that this year will be the first time in the airport's history, and certainly the first time since it has been run by Peel, that it has returned a profit.
"Growing numbers of passengers coming through the airport is very much key to that, and Liverpool's growing reputation internationally has played an important role. Peel has invested some £100m in JLA, and it is that sort of investment which has helped attract operators such as Ryanair and Wizzair to the airport, in addition to Easyjet, who have been operating here for ten years."
It is ten years since Peel took over the airport. Then, passengers could fly to just three scheduled destinations. That figure has now increased to almost 60, making JLA the third largest regional airport for international scheduled flights, behind Birmingham and Manchester.
But Peel's North West airport interest doesn't end with JLA. The group is also planning to develop Barton Aerodrome on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal and transform it into City Airport, Manchester, with the executive jet market as its target audience.