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Aug 20, 2009

Acsa sees steep passenger traffic decline, results ‘solid’

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Acsa MD Monhla Hlahla talks about the group's future plans (Videographer: Nicholas Boyd; Editing: Shane Williams).
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Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) released a “solid set” of financial results, despite the turbulent and contracting economic environment, Transport Deputy Minister Jeremy Cronin said on Thursday.

The company’s net earnings dropped by 43,7% to R444-million for the year ended March 31, 2009, compared with net earnings of R789-million the year before.

Acsa MD Monhla Hlahla highlighted that the group had seen a steep decline of 7,7% in departing passenger traffic during the year. This decline represented 2,8-million passengers.

She said that traffic volumes were driven by gross domestic product (GDP) growth and that a 1% increase in GDP led to a 2,5% increase in passenger traffic.

The decline had brought passenger traffic down to the levels seen in 2007, with domestic passenger traffic, which was down 10,5%, being the main contributor, noted Acsa financial director Priscillah Mabelane.

Mabelane added that aircraft landing volumes had also declined by 3,8% during the year.

The company was expecting lower passenger and aircraft landing volumes to continue throughout the 2010 financial year.

Nevertheless, the group’s revenues increased by 13% to R3,2-billion for the year, compared with R2,8-billion the year before, as nonaeronautical revenues rose 20% to R1,7-billion, up from R1,4-billion the year before.

Mabelane noted that some of the company’s nonaeronautical businesses, such as its core retail businesses, were exposed to the passenger volumes. Despite this, the core retail operations had seen a 29% increase in revenues.

Another significant contributor to the nonaeronautical revenues was property, which increased its revenues by 28% in the year.

In light of the downturn, the company had tried to identify the most appropriate property portfolios to manage and would continue to grow this section of its business, said Mabelane.

Aeronautical revenues, meanwhile, increased by 6% to R1,45-billion for the year, compared with R1,37-billion the year before, mainly as a result of an 11% increase in tariffs, which was awarded to Acsa in 2008.

Acsa hoped to have finalised its permission application for tariff increases for the period from April 1, 2010, to March 31, 2015, and submit this to the Economic Regulator by the end of August, said Hlahla.

She declined, however, to say how much of a tariff increase the group would seek, saying only that Acsa was still completing its tariff models.

Meanwhile, Hlahla was confident that the company would be able to complete all the airport infrastructural projects and capacity expansions for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in time.

The new airport being built at La Mercy, in KwaZulu-Natal, would open on May 2, 2010, said Hlahla.

Acsa had spent just under R2,4-billion in capital expenditure on the R6,8-billion project in the 2009 financial year.

Going forward, the company would continue to refine its long-term business plans, review its operating structure to enhance efficiencies, continue to improve its asset utilisation and complete a strategy to grow its traffic volumes.

Acsa chairperson Franklin Sonn, meanwhile, noted that the group was gearing all its efforts to ensure that passengers received good service in South Africa.

He added that the group was also attracting attention abroad.

It had already been involved in a consortium that was managing the Mumbai airport, in India. Sonn said that Acsa had received invitations from Russia and a number of African countries to build and manage airports for them.

Hlahla, however, said that the group would not pursue this aggressively, but would rather look at these on a case-by-case basis and in relation to what is required from the group in South Africa.

Its balance sheet was currently focused on South Africa and it would only potentially look at such opportunities in the next three to four years, she said.

Edited by: Mariaan Webb
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