COVID-19 had a $62 million-impact on BC Ferries in the first portion of 2020, according to the organization’s quarterly report.
The ferry service’s $62 million net loss is in stark contrast to net earnings of $12.2 million from the same quarter in 2019. Ending June 30, 2020, first quarter revenue was $137.4 million, down $109 million year over year.
In a statement, BC Ferries CEO Mark Collins thanked BC Ferries frontline workers.
“While COVID-19 continues to have a profound impact on our business, I want to express my deep appreciation to our frontline staff who came to work every day in the depths of the pandemic to provide lifeline service to coastal communities,” Collins said. “I also want to thank our customers for their patience as we all work towards a new normal.”
In response to the pandemic, BC Ferries reduced passenger capacity in half to promote physical distancing and reduced sailings to match the sudden and significant drop in traffic – a 75 to 80 per cent reduction in passengers in just a few days.
As the pandemic continued, BC Ferries deferred capital and discretionary spending – decisions made to safeguard the ferry service while continuing to provide an essential travel service for customers. Operating expenses were reduced by $36.7 million compared to 2019 – cash that offset earnings, the ferry service said.
By the end of June, traffic had begun to recover from the prior months – down roughly 35 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.
“We have been bringing back service capacity to coastal communities ahead of gradually increasing demand,” Collins said.
BC Ferries is included in the federal government’s transit funding in response to impacts of COVID-19. With federal dollars matched by the province, the coastal fairy service will receive a total funding envelope of $1.08 billion.
In mid-June, passengers were asked to be in possession of a face mask they could use in situation where physical separation was difficult, but starting Aug.24, the wearing of face masks will be mandatory for passengers at BC Ferries terminals and on board BC Ferries vessels.
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