The year 2020 was marked by the effects of the Covid-19 health crisis. For the first time in its history, Genève Aéroport recorded a huge loss of CHF 129.5 million compared to a profit of CHF 84.1 million in 2019.
This crisis, which is unprecedented since the end of World War II, has hit the airline industry hard. Air traffic has collapsed as a result of health measures adopted throughout the year by governments to combat the spread of the virus. In 2020, Genève Aéroport’s income plunged to CHF 191.2 million CHF against CHF 494 million in 2019. The drop in passenger traffic led to a reduction in aeronautical revenues by CHF 184.4 million down to CHF 94.3 million. Meanwhile, non-aeronautical revenues fell from CHF 118.4 million to CHF 96.9 million.
After having decided to put on hold and postpone several dozen projects in September and December, Genève Aéroport's investments amounted to CHF 134.6 million in 2020. These investments had reached a historic level of nearly 250 million in 2019. Larger projects have been protected, such as the East Wing, the replacement of baggage sorting (BLC), and the development of the thermal network in collaboration with SIG (GeniLac).
The severe drop in traffic deprived Genève Aéroport of a significant form of income. The company’s priority has been to secure its cash flow, to find additional liquidity (notably through the issuing of a bond loan in April 2020) and to reduce expenses.
To remedy this shock, which has affected all airports, the voluntary savings measures put in place by the Executive Management have made it possible to reduce personnel costs by CHF 19.5 million, excluding exceptional cases (-12.3% compared to 2019), reduce operating expenses by CHF 68 million (-39.7% compared to 2019) and reduce capital expenditure by 115 million CHF (-46.1% compared to 2019).
The reduction in personnel costs is the result of several joint actions. These measures namely include the reimbursement collected for partial unemployment which, with an overall rate of approximately 27.5% in reduced working hours (RWH) in 2020, made it possible to collect more than CHF 21 million in the reimbursement of salary costs. Several other decisions have had an impact on the decrease in personnel costs, such as recruitment freeze, the non-replacement automatic release of vacant positions, non-renewal of fixed-term contracts, removal of bonuses and the offsetting of balances for work hours and annual leave.
As of 31 December 2020, Genève Aéroport employed 1,041 full-time equivalents (FTE) compared to 1,070 FTE at the end of 2019. Job reduction measures continued in early 2021, with 1,018 FTE at the end of January 2021.
Fall in the number of passengers and aircraft movements
The Covid-19 crisis and travel restrictions strongly influenced 2020 visitor numbers, although the first two months of the year had been very positive. Over 2020 as a whole, Genève Aéroport welcomed 5,600,906 passengers: 68.8% less than in 2019 (17,926,625 passengers).
Alongside this, over the last twelve months, the total number of landings and take-offs fell by 53.6% to 86,354 movements compared to 186,043 movements. Taking into account business aviation alone, the reduction in aircraft movements in 2020 was 19.9%. Meanwhile, freight activity recorded a slowdown of 37.7% in 2020, with a volume of 52,833 tonnes (compared to 84,927 tonnes in 2019).
In 2020, Geneva provided flights to 147 destinations (119 European and 28 intercontinental) served by 54 airlines. The five most popular cities were London, Paris, Porto, Lisbon and Amsterdam. In terms of market share (number of passengers), the top five places are occupied by easyJet (45.7%), SWISS (13.8%), British Airways (5.5%), Air France (4.2 %) and KLM (2.9%).
Although the crisis has severely affected Genève Aéroport, environmental issues have remained a priority, with tangible results in terms of noise reduction and CO2 emissions, soundproofing of homes in neighbouring areas and waste recycling.
Increased passenger satisfaction
Except during the spring lockdown, levels of satisfaction were measured throughout the year to gain a better understanding of airport users, assess the quality of services and measure passenger satisfaction. Smiley boxes, which were frequently disinfected by the airport cleaning teams, were used non-stop in 2020 and more than 1.2 million votes were recorded.
All the measures have shown great confidence among passengers in the services and measures put in place against Covid-19. Satisfaction rose to unprecedented levels since surveys were first carried out at Genève Aéroport, particularly for Airport Service Quality (ASQ), a benchmark for airports. The main reasons for this clear improvement are a feeling of security, the courtesy shown by employees, quality of service by staff on duty, as well as the particularly short waiting times and greater space available in the terminal due to the low passenger numbers.
To adapt to health measures and ever-changing travel restrictions, Genève Aéroport has repeatedly shown great responsiveness in order to welcome the platform's passengers and employees in the best possible conditions. More than ever, the airport’s priority is still the safety and comfort of passengers now and in the months to come, when the long-awaited recovery begins.