Sydney Airport ‘optimistic’ of travel recovery this year after $145m loss
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Sydney Airport has tumbled to a $145 million full-year loss, down from a $403 million profit a year earlier, after the COVID-19 pandemic slowed passenger numbers to a trickle for much of 2020.
Australia’s busiest airport revealed on Wednesday that its revenue fell by 51 per cent to $803 million in the 12 months to December 31, with traffic falling 75 per cent to just 11 million passengers.
“The COVID-19 pandemic delivered a crisis of unprecedented magnitude to the global aviation industry, and Sydney Airport has been right on the frontline,” Sydney Airport chief executive Geoff Culbert said in a statement to the ASX.
Qantas’ near-empty terminal at Sydney Airport on February 14. Credit:Edwina Pickles
The company scraped its dividend and did not provide guidance for when payouts might resume given the uncertainty around when the market will recover. However Mr Culbert said he was “cautiously optimistic” that the recovery would start this year.
“The recovery won’t be linear, but our experience shows that when restrictions are eased and borders come down, people are keen to travel,” he said.
Traffic has remained negligible in the new year so far, with passenger numbers down 94 per cent in January compared to the same month a year earlier.
The $16 billion airport operator said it expected to stay within its debt covenants. It had $3.5 billion in available liquidity at December 31 comprising of $1.1 billion cash and $2.4 billion of undrawn debt at December 31.
Sydney Airport boosted its balance sheet last year to see it through a sustained shutdown, with a $2 billion equity raising through a renounceable entitlement offer, a $600 million bond placement and $850 million in additional banking facilities.
Sydney Airport also announced that prominent director David Gonski will replace Trevor Gerber as chairman after its annual general meeting in May. Mr Berber has been chairman for six years and on the board for 19 years.
Mr Gonski has been on the company’s board for two and a half years and previously served as a director at Singapore Airlines from 2006 to 2012.
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