World News

Vienna Airport launches savings program, cancels 2019 dividend

VIENNA (Reuters) – Vienna Airport <VIEV.VI> launched a savings programme equivalent to a quarter of annual revenue on Friday in response to the travel falloff caused by coronavirus and said state aid will ensure it remains liquid to the end of the year.

The group, which is 40% owned by the city of Vienna and the province of Lower Austria, also said it will cancel a proposed dividend for 2019 of 1.13 euros ($1.23) per share.

The number of passengers using Vienna Airport fell by two thirds in March to around 800,000, compared with 2.4 million last year. It has recorded a 99% drop in passengers numbers to around 800 a day this month, according to a spokesman.

Austrian Airlines <LHAG.DE>, which accounts for more than 40% of the airport’s passengers, has halted all flights until mid-May and is negotiating an aid package of several hundred million euros with the government.

Vienna Airport Group, which is also invested in Malta Airport and Kosice Airport, is seeking cost savings of 220 million euros this year and has cut planned investment to less than 100 million euros from 230 million euros. It has already withdrawn its 2020 revenue forecast of 870 million euros.

“Usage of state aid packages, the provision of sufficient credit lines and the successful implementation of saving measures guarantee the liquidity of the company, even if the crisis prevails until the end of the year,” it said in a statement.

Austria is providing 38 billion euros for state guarantees, emergency aid and tax deferrals and 5 billion euros for short-time work agreements to protect jobs and keep companies afloat.

Vienna Airport said it will postpone its annual shareholders meeting to Sept. 4.

(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Mike Harrison)