Hamburg aiming to bounce back from first ever annual loss
Hamburg Airport today admitted that the coronavirus pandemic has left deep scars in its balance sheet, revealing that the “unprecedented crisis” has resulted in a first-ever annual deficit of €113 million.
And the German airport, which saw its passenger numbers drop by 73% to 4.56 million in 2020, notes that without a strict savings programme, the annual loss would have been even worse.
However, despite the negative figures, it insists that hopes are now high for the 2021 summer market.
On an equally positive note it says that its sights are still firmly set on its climate protection targets and that by year-end, the company wants to achieve CO2-neutral operations.
“Aviation has effectively been in a lockdown for one year now,” explains Michael Eggenschwiler, CEO of Hamburg Airport. “This has naturally left its mark on our balance sheet.
“For at least the last 25 years, Hamburg Airport has always been profitable. Our profits over the past quarter of a century have enabled us to transfer around €900 million to our shareholders. For the first time ever, we find ourselves presenting a negative result. This is a bitter blow.
“Travel restrictions led for a time to an almost complete shutdown of air travel. We put on the brakes and reduced all costs to an absolute minimum. In a concerted effort, we as a company have dealt with this crisis responsibly.”
Reflecting on the decline in passengers, Hamburg Airport states: “The coronavirus pandemic brought operations to a standstill for a period. Only 4.56 million passengers used the airport, just 26.3% of the number from the previous year.
“Such a devastating decline in passenger figures has never been seen before in the history of Hamburg Airport. With around 66,300 take-offs and landings, the number of aircraft movements declined by 56.8 percent in 2020, compared to the previous year (2019: 155,200 flights).
“In terms of commercial flights, encompassing primarily scheduled and charter traffic, the decline was even stronger: the number of take-offs and landings sank by 63%, from 140,800 flights in 2019 to around 52,100 in 2020.
“The one bright spot during this crisis remains cargo, with air transport ensuring medical supplies, for example.
In response to the significant downturn in traffic and subsequently revenues, Hamburg Airport believes that it “acted responsibly in this challenging crisis, reducing all costs to an absolute minimum”.
The airport had to remain open throughout the year, for example for the transportation of people suffering from Covid-19 and of medical products, despite extensive losses. Some infrastructure was taken out of service, and Terminal 2 and several car parks were closed for months.
The airport was also one of the first companies to implement short-time work in March 2020, securing jobs; this measure, it says, will continue through the entirety of 2021. Investment projects were largely stopped or postponed.
For 2021, Hamburg Airport is currently anticipating a deficit of approximately €90 million and is quick to note that possible federal grants have not been taken into account in these figures.
At the end of 2020, Hamburg Airport was still assuming that around 43% of 2019 passenger levels could be achieved in 2021, equating to some 8.5 million passengers. The present lengthy lockdown and stricter travel restrictions, however, has led it to reduce this figure to 7.5 million passengers.
“Our great hope is resting on the summer business,” says Eggenschwiler. “I am convinced that the combination of tests and vaccinations will mean that summer vacation flights are possible again.
“It must be made much simpler for passengers, though, and a digital EU vaccine passport is the right approach.”
Testing capacities at the airport will increase significantly from April 1, 2021, with an additional service provider and a drive-through test station.