AOT says passenger numbers will not return to pre-covid levels until 2023

Airports of Thailand Plc (AOT) reported through the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) on Wednesday that it had adjusted its air traffic projection down in the next two years and predicted that its airport operation would only return to the pre-COVID-19 levels in 2023.

The airport operator expects the total number of flights, around 446,986 flights and 47.91 million passengers for the 2021 fiscal year and 776,763 flights and 110.88 million passengers for the 2022 fiscal year.

The adjustment in air traffic forecast is mainly based on the impact of the current COVID-19 outbreak which will last for the next three years, said the AOT Corporate Secretary Shanalai Chayakul.

“It is also expected that air traffic volumes in the 2023 fiscal year will return to the same level as those in the 2019 before the occurrence of COVID-19 outbreak,” Shanalai added.

AOT revised down the number of international passengers by 10.5 per cent and international flights by 11.9 per cent due to limitations stemming from the pandemic.

However, for domestic operations, passenger numbers are set to rise 16.4 per cent.

Still fragile

According to the company’s 2019 revenue breakdown, passenger service charges accounted for 42 per cent of total annual earnings while concession revenue stood at 28 per cent.

In the last quarter of 2020 fiscal year, AOT posted a loss of 2.6 billion baht, beating analysts and consensus estimates, with an 81 per cent decline in its full-year core earnings year-on-year.

Ekasit Kunadirekwong, an analyst at Krungsri Securities, downgrades AOT from ‘Buy’ to ‘Hold at the target price of 70 baht per share.

“The share price has outperformed the SET by 15 per cent over the past two months due to the vaccine positivism, and there is now limited upside” said Ekasit.               

As of Intermission on Thursday’s market, AOT traded at 67.25 baht per share,up 0.25 baht or +0.37 per cent, with a transaction value of 747.1 million baht.

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