Airports: South Africa’s ACSA records only its second loss in 28 years

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South Africa’s state-owned airport operator ACSA started cutting its coat according to its cloth several years ago and has avoided getting into the parlous state experienced by South African Airways.

Even so, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been severe, and cost-cutting has had to be ramped up higher still as huge losses were incurred in 2020.

There is some light at the end of the tunnel. Although the pandemic hasn’t gone away, infections are currently low and domestic travel has increased. Not so much international travel though, where capacity is moribund. But even there, South Africa is regarded as not so risky by other governments right now.

The strategic plan to get back on track has been in place for some time and involves continuous cost cutting and focusing on the ‘core business’ of nine airports. That means international operations have to take a back seat, and some of the investments have been sold already.

ACSA has been criticised for some of the ways in which it operates the country’s airports. Its - perhaps temporary - financial woes could encourage private operators to wonder if they could do a better job.

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