The Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) on Thursday (15 September) reported its financial results for the year ended March 2022, which it said largely reflected the group’s challenging operating environment following the Covid pandemic and last year’s civil unrest.

Revenue was 3.9 billion rand for the 12-month period, an 81% increase from the 2.2 billion rand reported in the previous financial year. The company said it had narrowed its losses to 1 billion rand from a 2.6 billion rand loss in 2020/21.

Chief executive officer Mpumi Mpofu noted that while this year’s performance was much better than last year’s, continued tough working conditions have somewhat slowed the recovery.

She said the recovery that took place during the reporting period was underpinned by a gradual and intermittent recovery in ridership compared to the previous year.

“When strict travel restrictions began to be lifted both at home and abroad, the demand for air travel increased. By 31 March 2022, ACSA’s network had recovered to 49% of its pre-Covid-19 passenger traffic,” Mpumi said.

The results come amid reports that a number of potential investors have expressed interest in buying a stake in the company, but Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has said it is not for sale.

Domestic communications accounted for 83 percent of passenger traffic during the reporting period. “We still have 30% less travel than in the pre-Covid-19 period, but the domestic market played an important role in improving our performance over the period under review,” said the chief executive.

“In contrast, international traffic, weighed down by the impact of the Omicron option in the third quarter of the fiscal year, recovered to only 28% of pre-pandemic levels.”

The number of aircraft landings increased by 105% to 176,816 from 86,434 the previous year, and the number of departing passengers increased by 131% to 10.5 million from 4.6 million.

Mpumi said air navigation revenue increased significantly by 121.7% to 1.8 billion rand (from 810 million rand) due to an increase in aircraft landings and departing passengers during the period.

Non-aeronautical revenue rose 57.1% to 2.1 billion rand from 1.3 billion rand in 2021. This improvement was due to increased passenger numbers as well as the lifting of some trade restrictions during different levels of lockdown.

Total income from non-aviation sources includes a rental income deferral of 591 million rand (2021: 1.4 billion rand) granted to lessees to offset the negative impact of the pandemic.

Retail revenue increased by 95.8% to 607 million rand (2021: 310 million rand) due to higher traffic volumes. However, this should be seen in the context of a 15.1% decline in retail revenue per passenger to 57.56 rand (2021: 67.77 rand), meaning that costs per passenger were lower.

Capital expenditure for the year was 546 million rand (2021: 770 million rand) and remained limited to maintenance and refurbishment as required by law. The group continues to demonstrate the efficiency of its activities, reducing operating costs to a minimum, said Mr.

Operating expenses increased by 3.9% to 2 billion rand (2021: 1.9 billion rand).

ACSA said it will continue to monitor the local and international business environment to determine appropriate responses to potential challenges and ensure the company’s long-term financial sustainability.

“The results for the reporting period demonstrate ACSA’s resilience in the face of an unprecedented crisis caused by prolonged lockdowns, travel restrictions and the need to drastically scale back operations. The results clearly show that the business is in a recovery phase.

“Going forward, we will continue to diversify our revenue streams and focus our operations on a growth strategy that includes commercial and cargo strategies,” said the group’s chief executive.

Read: Billionaire wants to buy South African airports: report

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