VICTORIA – BC Ferries released its first quarter results for the three months ended June 30, 2021. In the first three months, vehicle and passenger traffic increased 37 per cent and 40 per cent respectively, compared to the same period in the prior year.
While these increases are significant, ongoing travel restrictions limited passenger and vehicle traffic growth, with the company experiencing declines in revenue, earnings and cash from operations, compared to a pre-COVID period. Vehicle and passenger traffic was lower by 27 per cent and 46 per cent respectively, compared to the same period in fiscal 2020, a pre-COVID time.
In the three months ended June 30, 2021, revenues increased $91.8 million compared to the same period in the prior year, primarily as a result of the Safe Restart Funding, increases in traffic volumes and net retail sales. In the three months ended June 30, 2021, net earnings were $4.7 million, representing an increase of $66.7 million compared to a net loss of $62.0 million in the same period in the prior year.
“Traffic was stronger in this quarter than the same period last year but still well below expectations given the impacts of the third wave of COVID-19. Throughout the period, BC Ferries continued to provide lifeline service to coastal communities and we are pleased to see positive momentum with the return of summer leisure travel,” said Mark Collins, BC Ferries’ President and CEO.
In December 2020, BC Ferries received $308 million through the Safe Restart Program, a federal-provincial initiative intended to help provinces and territories safely restart their economies. BC Ferries, on behalf of the coastal ferry system and its users, is appreciative of the contributions from both the federal and provincial governments so the company can connect communities, deliver essential goods and help restore tourism in the destinations it serves.
The goals of the federal-provincial Safe Restart Program are to mitigate the impact of revenue losses and COVID-19-related spending, to help restore the level of annual earnings required to maintain service levels, and to keep fare increases to affordable levels through March 31, 2024. Maintaining this level of earnings supports the public interest in long-term sustainability, reliability and affordability of the ferry system.
Safe Restart Funding of $60.0 million was applied towards BC Ferries’ operating losses in the three months ended June 30, 2021. Without the Safe Restart Funding of $60.0 million, revenues in this period would have been $169.2 million and net losses would have been $55.3 million.
The company continues to modernize the fleet with four more battery-electric hybrid Island Class vessels and one more liquefied natural gas fuelled Salish Class vessel. Capital expenditures in this quarter totalled $38.7 million and included new vessels, major overhauls and inspections, marine ramp structure upgrades, hardware upgrades and various other projects. It is vital for BC Ferries to invest in capital projects to ensure the ferry system is safe and reliable.
BC Ferries’ full financial statements, including notes, and Management’s Discussion and Analysis are filed on SEDAR and will be available at www.sedar.com.