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Sydney Airport records full-year loss of $145m

written by Adam Thorn | February 24, 2021

Sydney Airport has revealed it recorded a full-year loss of $145 million, down from a $403 million profit a year earlier.

The COVID pandemic led to traffic to fall 75 per cent compared with 2019, at 11.2 million, however that dropped to 93 per cent after March 2020.

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Significantly, the business said it had $3.5 billion of liquidity as of 31 December 2020, which includes $1.1 billion of cash and $2.4 billion in undrawn debt facilities. It also confirmed it would not pay a final dividend.

Despite the slump, chief executive Geoff Culbert said he was “cautiously optimistic” that the industry would recover this year.

“As difficult as the crisis has been, I’m proud of the way we kept the airport open as an essential service and protected the business and everyone who works across the airport precinct,” said Culbert.

“We moved quickly to control the things that were in our control and put ourselves in a position to manage the unpredictability and volatility that became our ‘new normal’. The actions we took, combined with the COVID-19 vaccines rolling out, mean we have laid the foundation for our recovery through 2021 and beyond.

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“The recovery won’t be linear, but our experience shows that when restrictions are eased and borders come down, people are keen to travel.

“We take great confidence from our financial and operational response to COVID-19, which puts us in a strong position to manage through to the recovery and make the most of it when it arrives.”

The news comes on the day the airport also confirmed David Gonski will succeed Trevor Gerber as chairman at the end of the AGM held on 21 May 2021.

Gerber has been on the board since May 2002, and held the top position since May 2015. He has helped steer the business through making around 20 per cent of its total workforce redundant in August 2020.

Last week, Australian Aviation reported how Sydney Airport’s domestic passenger traffic slumped more than 70 per cent in January as states closed their borders due to COVID resurgence.

In a statement to the ASX, the business revealed the numbers travelling through were 196,000, down from 659,000 in December.

It follows the ‘Northern Beaches cluster’ of COVID cases causing states to impose travel restrictions in December, followed by a snap lockdown in Brisbane in early January.

Meanwhile, 33,000 international passengers passed through the airport, a small reduction from 44,000 in December and reflecting the temporary reduction in Australia’s arrival caps.

The border between NSW and Victoria was lifted on 23 November while Queensland reopened to Greater Sydney on 1 December.

However, a small outbreak in Sydney meant that by 21 December, the city was locked out from the rest of the country. This was followed by Brisbane entering a three-day lockdown on Friday, 8 January.

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