Copenhagen Airport has made a good start to the year. Following a record year in 2016, the first half of 2017 has seen pleasing growth in the number of passengers at the airport and a positive development in the route network. The 2.3% increase in passenger numbers to 14 million is in line with expectations:
“In 2016, for the first time, there were days when more than 100,000 passengers passed through Copenhagen Airport. More than 30 such days are expected in 2017,” says Thomas Woldbye, CEO of Copenhagen Airports A/S. “Danes are travelling more frequently, and Denmark has become an attractive destination for many tourists, particularly from southern Europe. We seek to continue this development with Expanding CPH, our plan to expand the airport to be able to accommodate more than 40 million passengers a year.
Increase in aircraft load factor
Thomas Woldbye points out that the growth in passenger numbers has meant that the airlines have generally experienced an improvement in occupancy on individual flights. The load factor – the percentage of seats sold on an aircraft – has risen to 74.5%, compared to 71.8% in the first half of 2016.
Over the last three years from 2014 to 2016, Copenhagen Airport has experienced average annual passenger growth of 6.4%, compared to 4.9% at Stockholm Arlanda and 3.1% at Oslo Airport, Gardermoen.
International competition among the major European airports mainly revolves around attracting new, intercontinental routes. In recent years, Copenhagen Airport has been able to increase both the number of destinations served and, not least, the number of weekly departures.
The number of weekly intercontinental departures from Copenhagen Airport has increased from 102 in 2012 to 134 in 2016, up more than 31%. In the same period, there was a 36% increase in the number of destinations served, from 25 to 34.
In the first half of 2017, the number of passengers on intercontinental routes was up 7.8%, which Thomas Woldbye says underlines the underlying latent potential for more passengers on long-haul routes:
“We’re working purposefully to expand the number of intercontinental routes, and in May were able to announce that Air India will start direct flights between Copenhagen and Delhi from September. There has long been a demand for this route from the Danish business community, and we’ve devoted significant resources over the last eight years to making this happen.”
He points to an analysis by DAMVAD Analytics showing that the route between Copenhagen and Delhi alone will contribute more than DKK 250 million to Denmark’s economy. Routes create growth and jobs. The consulting company DAMVAD Analytics has calculated that growth at Copenhagen Airport in the period 2005 to 2015 boosted Denmark’s gross domestic product (GDP) by approximately DKK 31 billion.
42% of passengers at Copenhagen Airport are business travellers. This passenger group has recently voted Copenhagen Airport one of the world’s top three airports for business travellers in the industry magazine Business Traveller. The winner was Changi in Singapore.
Several new routes
Several new routes from Copenhagen opened in the first half of 2017 – some to new destinations such as Oakland (California), Valencia and Turin, and some with new airlines to existing destinations, for example SAS’s routes to the Faroe Islands and Riga.
Half-year results in line with expectations
The growth in passenger numbers meant that Copenhagen Airports A/S achieved a satisfactory half-year result, with revenue up 1.8%. From 1 April 2017 and further to a new operator agreement with Nordic Choice, the hotel operation has been recognised on a net basis. Excluding this effect, underlying revenue grew by 4.3%.
CPH has a sustained focus on efficiency improvements, which has once again seen it named “Europe’s most efficient airport”, an annual accolade awarded by leading international researchers and aviation experts in the Air Transport Research Society (ATRS). This is the 12th time in 14 years that Copenhagen Airport has been awarded this prize.
The half-year report also shows how CPH has succeeded in reducing operating costs per passenger by 1.6% compared to the same period last year, excluding one-off items and the effect of the new hotel agreement. Overall, profit before tax, excluding one-off items, increased by 1% or DKK 7.7 million to DKK 758.0 million.
On this basis, Copenhagen Airports A/S is maintaining its 2017 outlook for profit before tax, excluding one-off items, in the range of DKK 1,600-1,700 million.
High investment level
Copenhagen Airports A/S invested DKK 1.1 billion in 2016. The high investment level has been maintained in 2017, with several major investment projects being launched at the start of the year.
Construction of a new Pier E started in January. The first phase of building work is expected to be finished in 2019, providing seven new gates, including for the largest wide-body aircraft.
Work also began on the expansion of Terminal 2, which is the busiest part of the airport. This project will double its total area, providing larger passenger flow areas as well as new amenities for passengers. The expansion of the central security checkpoint is expected to be finished by the end of the year.
Total investments in the first half of 2017 were DKK 653.5 million.
“In recent years, we’ve invested more than DKK 1 billion a year in expanding and developing the airport. This is an important part of Expanding CPH, which we hope will enable the airport to handle 40 million passengers a year. The growth we’ve experienced in the last few years has prompted us to increase the investment level further this year,” says Thomas Woldbye.
Government’s proposal for increased regulation creates uncertainty
In November 2015, as part of the initiative “Growth and development in all parts of Denmark”, the government started drawing up Denmark’s first national aviation strategy. As notified in the stock exchange announcements of 3 and 5 July 2017, the proposed changes may have a significant negative impact on the airport’s business plans, finances and strategy. Reference is made to the aforementioned stock exchange announcements.
CPH will review the business model and strategy in light of the proposed regulatory changes. In particular, CPH will have to re-evaluate the investment plan and financing. According to CPH, the concrete regulation now in open consultation will not lead to the desired effects in the strategy with regard to growth, accessibility and job creation.
Highlights of results
- Passenger numbers at Copenhagen Airport increased by 2.3% in the first six months of 2017. The number of local departing passengers grew by 4.5% and the number of transfer passengers decreased by 5.5%.
- Revenue grew by 1.8% to DKK 2,146.6 million (2016: DKK 2,108.6 million), primarily driven by the increase in departing international passengers. Underlying revenue growth, excluding the effect of the new hotel agreement, was 4.3%.
- Thanks to sustained focus on cost efficiency and despite increased regulatory requirements, operating costs per passenger fell by 1.6%, excluding one-off items and the effect of the new hotel agreement.
- EBITDA, excluding one-off items, increased by 6.0% to DKK 1,246.0 million (2016: DKK 1,175.1 million). Reported EBITDA rose by 5.8% to DKK 1,236.1 million (2016: DKK 1,167.9 million).
- EBIT, excluding one-off items, increased by 1.7% to DKK 852.8 million (2016: DKK 838.5 million). Reported EBIT rose by 1.4% to DKK 842.9 million (2016: DKK 831.3 million). EBIT was affected by a 16.8% increase in depreciation charges because of the large investments in growth.
- Net financing costs increased by DKK 6.6 million year on year, which is partly due to a higher investment level, but were offset to some extent by improved loan terms.
- Profit before tax, excluding one-off items, increased by 1.0% to DKK 758.0 million (2016: DKK 750.3 million). Reported profit before tax increased by 0.7% to DKK 748.1 million (2016: DKK 743.1 million).
- Capital expenditure was DKK 653.5 million in the first six months of 2017 (2016: DKK 372.2 million). The first half has been affected by expansion of capacity at the central security checkpoint, improvement of wide-body facilities, expansion of Terminal 2 airside, establishment of Pier E and various investments in growth.
- A total dividend of DKK 500.0 million will be distributed on 11 August 2017 via VP Securities Services based on the holdings registered in VP accounts at the end of the business day on 10 August 2017. Consequently, shares purchased for settlement on or before 10 August 2017 will carry a dividend, whereas shares sold for settlement on or before 10 August 2017 will lose the right to a dividend. This means that transactions up to and including 8 August 2017 will be settled cum dividend, and transactions from and including 9 August 2017 will be settled ex dividend when traded at normal two-day settlement.