The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) reports that Toronto Pearson airport (YYZ) lost $383 million in 2020 due to a dramatic drop in passenger numbers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Releasing its financial and operating results for the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2020, the GTAA says its net loss compared with a $139.8-million profit in 2019 as revenues decreased nearly by half to $823.5 million, from $1.5 billion a year earlier.
Due to a decrease in aviation activity worldwide, passenger numbers decreased 73.6 per cent during 2020 as compared to 2019, the GTAA reports.
"Our full-year passenger and financial results make clear the impact that COVID-19 has had on Toronto Pearson," Deborah Flint, president and CEO at the GTAA, stated. "While we have pushed toward leading hygiene practices, and advocated for a stronger approach to passenger testing, there is more that must be done with our government and aviation sector partners to develop a recovery framework that permits the safe restart of air travel.”
“Canada's airports must be given the tools they require to rebound in a post-COVID world or our aviation sector and the country's competitiveness will suffer."
Traffic down, spending cut
More than 13 million people passed through Canada’s largest airport in 2020, including 5.5 million on domestic flights and 7.8 million for international service.
That was down from 50.5 million, including 18.1 million within Canada and 32.4 million between Canada and the U.S. and other destinations around the globe.
As a result of COVID-19, there is very limited visibility on travel demand given changing government restrictions in place around the world.
YYZ responded to the pandemic by cutting capital spending by $265 million and temporarily closing more than 40 per cent of its terminal facilities, the GTAA reports.
“While the full duration and scope of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be known at this time, management believes that the pandemic will not have a material impact on the long-term financial sustainability of the airport,” the GTAA said in a statement.
Apart from the impact of the pandemic on GTAA revenues and operations, there may also be disruptions, including to air carriers, supply chains and third-party service providers, the GTAA said.
“The pandemic may also impact the cost of capital and the ability to access the capital markets in the future which may arise from disrupted credit markets, and possible credit ratings watch or downgrade of GTAA debt,” the association said.
Meanwhile, Toronto Pearson has partnered with all levels of government to initiate on-site testing programs.
On Jan 6, the Ontario government launched a voluntary pilot COVID-19 testing program at the airport.
Between Feb. 1 and 21, Ontario then ordered nearly all international passengers landing at YYZ and staying in Ontario to take a mandatory COVID-19 test at the airport before following existing federal quarantine rules.
On March 8, the GTAA, with a financial contribution from the Government of Canada, initiated a COVID-19 antigen test study.
Finally, effective, March 16, departing passengers to the U.S. were eligible to be tested at the airport as part of the testing study using antigen COVID-19 tests as negative results may be relied on for travel to the U.S.
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