The number of passengers sailing on BC Ferries have nearly halved in 2020 year-to-date against the back drop of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to figures released in late November, with senior leadership promising additional financial scrutiny.
Some 7.7 million passengers travelled on BC Ferries during the six-month period ending Sept. 30, a decrease of 43 per cent compared to the same period last year. The corresponding number of vehicles carried by BC Ferries dropped 28.7 per cent.
Year-to-date, BC Ferries is reporting net losses of $24.2 million since April 1, compared to net earnings of $107.2 million in the same period in the prior year, a decline of $131.4 million.
Mark Collins, president and chief executive officer of BC Ferries, said COVID-19 continues to have a “significant impact on the ferry system” as it continues to navigate through what the organization calls the “new normal.”
While the COVID-19 related effects have reduced expenses, they have not offset declines in revenues, because a significant share of costs remain fixed and do not change with reduced traffic demand.
Collins added that BC Ferries will be reviewing all capital plans to defer any expenditures that are not necessary from an operational, regulatory, security or safety-related perspective.
Prior to COVID-19, BC Ferries’ capital plan totalled $3.9 billion, a figure that included new vessels as well as upgrades to existing vessels, significant improvements to fleet maintenance unit, major investments at terminals and renewal of information technology systems, Collins said.
“It’s imperative that we scrutinize everything we do to preserve the long-term sustainability of the ferry system in the public interest,” he said.
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