Critical judgements and estimates


The assumptions and estimates made in the financial statements often concern expected future developments. Since the actual developments may deviate from the assumptions used, the actual outcomes may significantly differ from the current measurements of a number of items in the financial statements. As a result, the assumptions and estimates used may significantly influence Schiphol Group's equity and results. Assumptions and estimates used are tested periodically and adjusted where necessary. To a significant degree, these assumptions and estimates are based on past experience and on Schiphol Group's management's best estimate of specific circumstances which – in the management's view – apply in the given context. This section discusses the principal areas where the measurement of items is strongly influenced by the assumptions and estimates used.

Useful life, residual value and impairment of property, plant and equipment

The carrying value of property, plant and equipment is calculated on the basis of estimates of depreciation periods derived from the expected technical and useful life of the asset concerned, and residual values. The expected technical and useful life of the asset concerned and its estimated residual value may change under the influence of technological developments, market circumstances and changes in the use of the asset. These factors may also give rise to the need to recognise an impairment on assets.

Determining the fair value of investment property and land positions

The fair value of buildings recognised under investment property is appraised twice a year by management through the deployment of independent external valuators. The fair value of land recognised under investment property is appraised primarily on the basis of internal valuations. In addition each year a different part of the land positions is appraised by independent external valuators. The best evidence of fair value are current prices in an active market for similar investment property. In the absence of such information, Schiphol Group determines the amount within a range of reasonable fair value estimates. The underlying assumptions of these estimates are explained in more detail in the accounting policies on investment property and in note 11. Investment property.

Impairment of goodwill and non-current assets

Goodwill is not amortised, but an annual impairment test is carried out to identify if there are any changes or events that could lead to an impairment of the goodwill. Other assets are tested in the case of any events or changes that call for an impairment test.

Capitalisation and allocation of costs to specific assets

All capital expenditures are initially recognised under assets under construction if they are expected to generate future economic benefits. A distinction is made between operating activities and investment property. Asset used for operating activities can be subdivided into the following categories:

  • runways, taxiways and aprons;
  • paved areas and roads;
  • buildings;
  • installations;
  • other non-current assets.

Taxes

When preparing the financial statements, Schiphol Group makes every effort to assess all relevant tax risks and process up-to-date tax position details in the financial statements to the best of its ability. Evolving insights, for example following final tax assessments for prior years, can result in additional tax burdens or benefits, and new tax risks may arise. In the valuation of deferred tax assets, particularly those concerning differences between the values of property, plant and equipment for reporting and tax purposes in the financial statements, assumptions are made regarding the extent to which and the period within which such assets can be realised. This is done, for instance, on the basis of business plans. In addition, when preparing the financial statements assumptions are made regarding temporary and permanent differences between the values for reporting and tax purposes. The actual situation may deviate from the assumptions used to determine deferred tax positions, due for instance to diverging insights and changes in tax laws and regulations. See 12. Income taxes for a more detailed explanation.

The management programme for these tax risks (also known as the ‘tax control framework’) is part of Schiphol Group’s overall risk management programme. This programme serves to identify tax risks and monitor internal control with the aim of mitigating the tax risks. Schiphol Group has also developed and implemented a tax planning framework. Tax risk management is facilitated by the central control department (Group Control) and is part of approved Management Board policy. This policy is based on Schiphol Group’s aim to be a trustworthy taxpayer through the application of professional tax compliance procedures.

Provisions

Schiphol Group uses estimates and assumptions when determining the likelihood that an obligation per balance sheet date will lead to an outflow of resources. In addition to this, assumptions are applicable to the estimated amount of outflow of resources. For example, Schiphol recognised an environmental provision related to soil pollution for construction projects for which soil has been excavated. Since there is no technical solution available for decontaminating the polluted soil, the excavated soil is temporarily stored at the airport until the market has developed a decontamination solution. Schiphol has made an estimation of the expected expenditures related to the decontamination. For a more detailed explanation, refer to note 25. Provisions.

Claims and disputes

Schiphol Group is the subject of various claims and disputes, which are part of its business operations. Group's management assesses the claims and court cases instituted against it on the basis of facts and seeks legal advice when required. Schiphol is also involved in disputes as a claimant. In both cases this involves subjective elements and projected outcomes. However, it is not possible to obtain certainty about the final outcome and any negotiations on claims and disputes. For a more detailed explanation, see note 28. Contingent assets and liabilities.

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