ACSA faces major losses amid Covid-19 decline in air traffic

Airports Company South Africa expects operational losses due to decline in passenger numbers from Covid-19.

Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) expects operational losses for its financial year ending 31 March 2021. With a 60 percent decline in passenger numbers expected this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the company is assessing how it mitigates the fallout.

ACSA CEO Mpumi Mpofu indicated that overall air passenger traffic is only projected to rebound to pre-Covid-19 levels by 2024.

ACSA controls nine of the country’s airports and may need to sell its international investments in airports in Brazil and India to help alleviate the blows of the pandemic. The group will have to secure state guarantees from the South African government If it is unable to sell these stakes.

In its latest financial results presentation, ACSA announced that with the projected breach of debt covenants, it has obtained a waiver until June 2022 from the French Development Agency, which is one of its biggest funders.

Mpumi said that the Covid-19 pandemic adversely affected ACSA’s latest full-year results as well as outlook in the tail-end of its financial year.

ACSA’s airport network recorded a 3.3 percent increase in total passenger growth until the end of February 2020. However, the travel bans first introduced in March during the hard lockdown led to an overall 0.9 percent contraction in passenger numbers for the financial year to the end of March.

The next few months are a crucial time for international tourist travel to South Africa, particularly for the Western Cape. Capitalising on festive season travel is a big reason the Tourism Business Council of SA is pushing for the government’s red list of Covid-19 countries to be scrapped, in order to salvage the peak February/March 2021 international travel season to the country.