By Justin Lee (Singapore)
Airports Company of South Africa Limited (ACSA) is a South African based international airport operator. Founded in 1993, ACSA operates nine of South Africa’s airports, including the three main international gateways of O.R. Tambo International, Cape Town International and King Shaka International Airports .
ACSA is involved in equity investments abroad – it holds a 20% stake in Brazilian business Aeroporto de Guarulhos – and provides technical advisory and consultancy services to other airports globally.
ACSA’s majority shareholder is the South African Government (74.6%). Other shareholders include the Public Investment Corporation (20%) and Empowerment Investors (4.21%).
In 2020, with the outbreak of the COVID19 pandemic, the airport operator saw a 65.8% decline in the total number of departing passengers across its nine airports from 21.6 million in 2019 to 7.4 million. The situation has not seen much improvement at the beginning of 2021, with the number of departing passengers in January 2021 falling by 69.6% to 0.54 million from 1.78 million in January 2020, when the full impact of the global pandemic had not yet been felt in South Africa.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted the air transport industry in South Africa, South Africa’s air transport industry was already facing its own challenges even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
The country’s main carrier, South African Airways, had been struggling to make a profit since 2011. In December 2019, it was forced to enter into “business rescue”, a form of bankruptcy protection where it was placed under administration and restructured. The carrier was only able to exit its bankruptcy protection in May 2021.
The problems presented by South African Airways therefore added to the crisis caused by reduction in passenger traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbating the impact on business and operations across ACSA’s nine airports.
For the six months ended September 2020, ACSA’s operating revenue was ZAR 685mn, an 80.4% decline from the operating revenue of ZAR 3.5bn generated in the six months ended September 2019.
EBITDA fell from ZAR 1.4bn in the six months ended September 2019 to a loss of ZAR 1.1bn in the six months ended September 2020.
ACSA made a net a loss of ZAR 1.47bn in the six months ended September 2020, a significant decline from the net profit of ZAR 125mn it generated for the six months ended September 2019 .