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The return of travelers is a balm for Aéroports de Montréal

MONTREAL — All Aéroports de Montréal (ADM) indicators have taken off after two years of misery.

In announcing its results for the first quarter of 2022 on Thursday, ADM reported a 414% jump in the number of passengers compared to the first quarter of 2021, for a total of 2.2 million passengers for the first three months. of the year.

For the month of March alone, the increase reached 823% compared to March 2021, i.e. just over one million passengers, which represents nearly 60% of the number of passengers in March 2019, the reference year before -pandemic.

“Today, the signs of recovery are united. The health situation, although volatile, seems to remain under control. People want to travel”, proclaimed the president of the board of ADM, Danielle Laberge.

Revenge of the Travelers

This sudden influx, fueled by the lifting of numerous health measures, is part of the global movement of “revenge travelling” or revenge travel. It was the president and CEO of ADM, Philippe Rainville, who mentioned this expression, which refers to the rush of travelers frustrated at not having been able to fly away during the pandemic.

“People want to thumb their noses at the pandemic by taking a getaway. We are very happy to welcome travelers and provide them with this form of release,” said Mr. Rainville with a smile, adding that the Easter period in particular had been very strong.

Mr. Rainville says he expects a return to 2019 levels from 2024, but does not rule out that this return could occur as early as 2023 if the phenomenon continues and is accompanied by a resumption of travel. ‘business. Although Dorval Airport is mainly a tourist airport, business travel still represents 25% to 30% of traffic and the recovery on this side remains uncertain, according to Mr. Rainville.

REM: postponement of the schedule

ADM’s “very precarious” financial situation has thus led to the postponement and revision of many investment projects and the REM airport station will not be able to be put into service at the end of 2024 as initially planned. A new schedule is to be presented in the fall.

No question, however, of backing down, said Philippe Rainville: “The REM Montreal-Trudeau station, we wanted it. We absolutely wanted it. A fast, traffic-free link with the international airport is essential for a modern metropolis.”

Mr. Rainville, however, specified that he had to remind the public authorities on several occasions that it was impossible for him to build the $600 million station without financial aid. The public authorities have heard this call and will contribute $500 million in the form of grants ($100 million from the federal government) and subordinated loans ($100 million from Investissement Québec and $300 million from the Canada Infrastructure Bank).

In addition, the project had to be completely revised to be able to respect the budget while taking into account the strong inflationary pressure. “We worked with local architects and renowned engineers to optimize the design of the station to the maximum in order to minimize the risks of the site and contain the costs while bequeathing a quality architecture”, he affirmed.

Mirabel saved by the pandemic

It should be noted that the volumes of cargo that passed through ADM’s other component, Mirabel airport, exceeded those of 2019 in 2021, after a slight drop in 2020, an increase that is directly attributable to the coronavirus.

“The pandemic will have been for YMX (Mirabel) a moment to consolidate its role as a hub for the transport of goods, advanced the CEO. YMX has been the place of receipt of many deliveries of vaccines and medical equipment.

This recovery obviously does not erase the disastrous results of 2020 and 2021. Mr. Rainville recalled that Montreal International Airport had been designated as one of the four Canadian airports to remain in operation for international flights. With a drop of nearly 75% in the number of travelers in 2021 compared to 2019 and an obligation to maintain all services, ADM found itself with “almost twice as much expenses as income”, a-t -he argues.

“Even when we stop everything we can stop, we still have close to half a billion in expenses. We even donated the 140 plants that were in our offices to reduce housekeeping costs. They went to beautify a palliative care home in Kirkland,” said Philippe Rainville.

Profit up 423%

As for the financial results for the first quarter of 2022, earnings before income taxes, financial charges, amortization, depreciation and share of results of a joint venture (EBITDA) amounted to $35 million, an increase of 45.8 million or 423% compared to the loss of $10.8 million for the same period last year.

Consolidated revenues amounted to $102.8 million for the first three months of 2022, up $63.7 million or 163.0% compared to last year, an increase directly attributable to the recovery in traffic of passengers. Operating expenses reached $47 million, an increase of $10.2 million or 27.7% compared to the same quarter of 2021 which is mainly attributable to the increase in passenger service fees, as well caused by the return of travellers.

Ginette Maillé, Chief Financial Officer of ADM, also explained that Ottawa had not renewed, in 2021, the $21 million rent holiday granted from March to December 2020, “which means that in this second year of crisis, we will have to remit an amount of $25 million to Transport Canada in payment of rent. As a measure of relief, the government instead proposed that it be paid to him in 10 equal installments over 10 years.

ADM’s net debt as of March 31, 2022 was $2.43 billion, compared to $2.45 billion as of December 31, 2021.

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