HIAA reports 2021 financials with a focus on the future

(Discover Halifax Photo)

From a press release:

HALIFAX STANFIELD: At its first in-person annual public meeting in two years, Halifax International Airport Authority (HIAA) reflected on 2021 as another challenging year due to the COVID-19 pandemic but remained optimistic for a strong recovery in the years to come.

“Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges we could have never anticipated,” said Joyce Carter, President & Chief Executive Officer, HIAA. “Despite the obstacles we faced, the team at Halifax Stanfield continued to prioritize health and safety, and our community, which allowed us to be well-positioned when travel restrictions eased, and activity began to resume in the second half of 2021.”

In 2021, HIAA’s total revenue was $48.2 million, up $6.9 million from 2020 as additional government support and growth in airport improvement fee (AIF) revenue offset further declines in core operating revenue.

Excluding government assistance and AIF, HIAA’s core operating revenue equated to just 37 per cent of pre-pandemic revenue. In 2021, total operating expenses exceeded revenue due to the continued depression of air travel activity. HIAA is reporting a net loss of $34.9 million, compared to $40.0 million in 2020.

HIAA anticipates necessary airport operating expenses will continue to outpace revenues for the next few years and is forecasting to break even in 2024.

“Last year was another difficult year from a financial perspective. We saw very limited growth in passenger activity and, as a result, 2021 looks similar in many ways to 2020, which is what we anticipated,” said Paul Brigley, Vice President, Finance & Chief Financial Officer, HIAA.

HIAA was grateful to receive a one-time payment of $5.6 million from the Government of Canada through the Airport Relief Fund, a program to help airports maintain safe and efficient operations.

 In 2021, the federal government also provided support through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, ground lease rent relief, and a capital funding commitment of up to $14.7 million to assist with necessary airfield restoration and improvement initiatives under the Airport Critical Infrastructure Program.

Throughout the year, HIAA continued to hold the line on expenses with a strong focus on supporting the safe and efficient operation of the airport and maintaining facility closures and operational consolidations where possible.

“We are proud of the work our employees did in 2021 to keep expenses down amid fluctuations in travel demand,” said Brigley. “However, we are forecasting it will be a few more years until we return to a positive financial position, which reflects why we need to remain focused on controlling costs.”

Nevertheless, long-term prospects for the airport remain strong and HIAA is pleased to be focused on brighter days ahead.

Looking to 2022, air services have returned in all three sectors (domestic, international and U.S. transborder) and air cargo activity continues to recover.

“As we navigate our way through the pandemic, 2021 has left us with a sense of hope for what the future holds at Halifax Stanfield,” said Carter. “We are ready to serve our community, our industry partners, and airport businesses as travel activity begins to rise again.”

To read HIAA’s 2021 Annual Report, RISE, please visit https://halifaxstanfield.ca/airportauthority/annual-report/.