Published on April 29th, 2021 | by Alan Dwyer0
daa Records €284m Loss Due To Impact Of COVID-19 On Travel
daa, which operates both Dublin and Cork airports in Ireland and airports and business in 15 markets, has recorded a loss of €284 million last year due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Passenger numbers at its two Irish airports fell by 78% to just 7.9 million in 2020, compared to the record breaking 35.5 million in 2019. Almost all of the airport retail outlets that daa operates in Ireland and overseas were closed for extended periods during the year. Turnover declined by 69% from €935 million in 2019 to €291 million last year, as the reduction in passengers across all daa’s markets led to a €644 million fall in business activity. The pandemic continues to have a crippling effect on the Irish aviation and tourism sectors. In the first three months of this year, passenger numbers at Dublin and Cork airports have fallen by 92% compared to the promising start to 2020.
Commenting on the figures released on Thursday, daa Chief Executive Dalton Philips said, “Our Irish airports have been one of the businesses that have been most negatively affected by the impact of COVID-19 over the past 13 months. Dublin and Cork airports lost 27.6 million passengers last year, which is more than 5.5 times the population of the State. The last time that Dublin and Cork airports had fewer than 8 million passengers in a calendar year was in 1994. As vaccination levels increase, both at home and in many of our key overseas travel markets, Ireland must develop a roadmap for exiting mandatory hotel quarantine and for easing the blanket restrictions on overseas travel. The aviation industry in Ireland has recently submitted a comprehensive plan to enable the restart of international air travel to and from Ireland in a manner that continues to protect public health. Having outlined our recommendations, the industry needs substantive Government engagement on this vital issue. Ireland must start planning now for putting in place a system that will allow for international travel again.”
Some essential construction projects such as the North Runway at Dublin Airport and new security screening systems for aircraft hold baggage at Dublin and Cork airports progressed during the year when permitted under health restrictions. Plans for the reconstruction of Cork Airport’s runway were significantly advanced during 2020 and into this year and daa will appoint a contractor shortly for this vital project. This project will involve the closure of the main runway for several weeks. In line with Irish Government policy, both Dublin and Cork airports remained open throughout the pandemic. More than 6.2 million kilogrammes of essential PPE and medical equipment were imported through Dublin airport on 356 flights operated by 16 different airlines. Dublin Airport was also a key hub for vital exports during the year, as Ireland is a major producer of medical devices and pharmaceutical products.
Almost 1,000 Irish-based staff have left the business, which is equivalent to almost one-third of the group’s overall workforce in Ireland. About 1,000 people have also exited the overseas retail businesses operated by the group. daa agreed major changes in the way it operates its business in Ireland with trade union and staff representatives. More than 93% of employees who voted in a series of ballots on these new work practice proposals agreed to accept these changes. Existing revolving credit facilities were increased from €300 million to €450 million and its maturity was extended from November 2022 until March 2026. A committed European Investment Bank loan of €350 million, which has a fixed interest rate of less than 1% and is repayable over 20 years, was drawn down in the second quarter of last year. In October, daa raised €500 million from a bond issue with the funds, which have a fixed annual rate of just over 1.6%, repayable in November 2032.