FOCUS ON COST, CASH AND FAST RECOVERY IN F22
Wizz Air Holdings Plc announces its audited results for the full year ended 31 March 2021 for the Company:
|Full year to 31 March||2021||2020||Change|
|Passengers carried (million)||10.2||40.0||(74.6%)|
|Revenue (€ million)||739.0||2,761.3||(73.2%)|
|EBITDA (€ million)||(182.8)||719.8||n.m.*|
|EBITDA margin (%)||(24.7%)||26.1%||(50.8ppt)|
|Profit/(loss) for the year (€ million)||(576.0)||281.1||n.m.*|
|Profit/(loss) margin (%)||(77.9%)||10.2%||n.m.*|
|Underlying net profit/(loss) for the year (€ million)||(482.4)||344.8||n.m.*|
|Underlying net profit/(loss) margin (%)||(65.4%)||12.5%||n.m.*|
|RASK (€ cent)||2.89||3.95||(26.8%)|
|Ex-fuel CASK (€ cent)||3.86||2.27||70.0%|
|Total Cash (€ million)||1,616.6||1,496.3||8.0%|
|Load factor (%)||64.0||93.6||(29.6ppt)|
*n.m.: not meaningful as the variance is more than (-)100%.
Commenting on the results, József Váradi, Wizz Air Group Chief Executive Officer said:
“This was probably one of the most challenging years for the aviation industry, heavily impacted by COVID-19 related regulations. Wizz Air’s F21 revenue was down 73 per cent and we incurred an underlying loss of €482 million. Despite these unprecedented challenges, we stayed in control of our cost structure, preserved our cash position and maintained our investment-grade balance sheet.
During F21 we carried ten million passengers, a 75 per cent decrease compared to the previous fiscal year. Passenger and revenue figures reflect the sharp cut back in capacity throughout the year as a result of travel restrictions across Europe.
Agility has been key in navigating the year. We expanded from 25 to 43 operating or announced bases, which inherently increases flexibility. We continuously realigned capacity with ever-changing restrictions, ramping up to 80 percent capacity in the span of weeks over summer 2020 and then down to 20 per cent only weeks later.
Load factors were markedly down compared to F20 at 64 per cent, while average revenue per passenger improved by 5.2 per cent to €72.6 in F21.
We finished the year with a total cash position of €1,617 million, representing a quarterly cash burn of €84m during the last quarter (Q4 F21).
Our swift and decisive actions, taken at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, allowed us to better protect our financial position, and 80 per cent of the Wizz Air jobs, in a context of a 75 per cent business decline. These decisions were not easy and the work delivered by our colleagues in this past year was nothing short of heroic. We want to thank each of our employees and each of our customers for their continued support of Wizz Air and are looking forward to rebuilding and eventually doubling the Wizz Air business in the next year and years to come.
Commenting on the outlook for the Company, József Váradi added:
We are cautiously optimistic about the recovery of the business, which has started later than what we would have liked as COVID-19 restrictions have remained in place longer than anticipated. Therefore, F22 will continue to be a transition year. Whereas the recovery pattern continues to be difficult to forecast, the trends are encouraging and we are ready as ever. We have prepared the company to be an even more formidable player and to take advantage of the next phase of market opportunities that await post-pandemic. The investments we have made in our fleet and in our network over the past 12 months will soon yield results.
We expect to fly around 30 per cent of our capacity in the first quarter of F22 and are resuming all cash contributing flying subject to government-imposed restrictions. Furthermore, unless we see an accelerated and permanent lifting of restrictions we expect a reported net loss during F22. For F23 we see a strong trading environment and we plan to operate our full capacity.
F21 FINANCIAL NET LOSS AND STRENGTH IN BALANCE SHEET
- Net loss was €576 million with an underlying net loss of €482.4 million (compared to €344.8 million underlying net profit in F20).
- Underlying net loss recognizes the impact of exceptional expense (included in Fuel costs) of €93.6 million (F20: €63.7m exceptional expense)
- Total cash at the end of March 2021 was €1,617 million (of which €169.1 million was restricted cash and €346.8 million were cash deposits with a maturity of more than 3 months. Deposits with an original maturity of longer than 3 months (€432.5 million at the end of F20) are presented separately from cash and cash equivalents going forward.
REVENUE AND COST HIGHLIGHTS
Revenues: Total revenue declined by 73 per cent to €739 million.
- ASKs and passenger numbers both declined 63.5 per cent and 74.6 per cent respectively year on year.
- Passenger ticket revenue declined by 78 per cent to €325.7 million to make up 44 per cent of total revenue.
- Ancillary revenue declined by 67 per cent to €412.6 million representing 56 per cent of total revenue (compared to 45 per cent of revenue in F20).
During the COVID-19 pandemic we adhered to the principle of maximizing cash-positive flying. We continued to operate, enabled by our low cost structure, whilst many of our peers were forced to ground larger parts of their fleets. In addition to scheduled flights we added charter flights, helping governments and businesses repatriate their citizens and employees during the early months of the pandemic. At the same time we helped distribute medical supplies and vaccines to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. As the demand for flying became more inelastic, we adjusted our pricing algorithms. Ancillary revenue continued to perform well, with strong results via higher conversion on core products, dynamic pricing and a more relevant product portfolio.
Costs: Total operating expenses, excluding exceptional items, decreased by 50.3 per cent to €1,173.4 million in F21 from €2,359.3 million in F20, while total CASK increased by 48.0 per cent to 5.22 Euro cents in F21 from 3.53 Euro cents in F20. CASK excluding fuel expenses increased by 69.8 per cent to 3.86 Euro cents in F21 from 2.27 Euro cents in F20. The increase in CASK in large part was driven by fixed cost even after factoring in several cost actions.
Even more so during F21, cost was a key theme. In April 2020, we took the painful decision to reduce roles by 19 per cent across all departments and reduce salaries by 14 per cent on average. We renegotiated contracts with suppliers while reducing consumption. As airports adjusted to the new reality we concluded beneficial long term deals on existing and new bases and destinations. Our fleet was managed carefully to allow for short to medium term aircraft parking, optimizing for quick deployment as flying opportunities emerged.
STRONGER GEOGRAPHICAL FOOTPRINT
- Our CEE market leadership further improved with a market share of 45.9 per cent in the low-cost sector and 20.9 per cent of the total CEE market, up from 39.6 per cent and 17.5 per cent last year respectively.
- We increased the number of operating or announced bases from 25 pre-COVID to 43.
- Within CEE, we added presence in markets where competition retrenched. In total we announced or opened seven new bases in CEE with St. Petersburg, Lviv, Bacau, Larnaca, Sarajevo, Tirana and Burgas.
- We strengthened historic positions in the West with more base openings and routes in large markets like UK and Italy, markets where we have been operating for more than 15 years, and where the competitive landscape is changing significantly in the wake of COVID-19. In total, we announced or opened 10 new bases in Western Europe (London Gatwick, Doncaster and Cardiff, Malpensa, Catania, Palermo, Rome Fiumicino and Bari, Oslo and Dortmund).
- Our operation in Abu Dhabi started in January 2021, paving the way to replicate the success of Wizz Air Hungary in the Middle East and surrounding markets, making our service over time available for up to 5 billion people within a 5-hour flight radius.
- At the end of F21 we operated 824 routes across Europe and the Middle East.
AIRBUS NEO AND FLEET UPDATE
- We expanded our fleet with a net 16 aircraft to 137 at the end of F21 with 52 per cent of seats now served by A321 family of aircraft. Airbus singled out Wizz Air as one of its customers who continued to take deliveries of its order book aircraft throughout F21. Despite the pandemic, Wizz Air actively pursued accelerating its fleet renewal program and bringing forward the benefits of new technology in ownership and operating cost, fuel consumption and lower carbon and noise emissions. During F21 four older technology aircraft A320 CEO (current engine option) were redelivered to leasing companies.
- Our committed order book for a further 248 A320neo family aircraft ensures Wizz Air will increasingly operate only the latest and most fuel-efficient technologies. Our investment-grade rating – Moody’s (Baa3) and Fitch (BBB-) – and a proven quality of the underlying asset continued to attract strong interest from financiers.
- The average aircraft age was 5.4 years and our average seat density was 204.7 seats, making it one of the youngest and most cost-efficient fleets of any European airline.
- GHG emissions were significantly lower than F20 in absolute terms (-65.6 per cent), however, our emission intensity was higher due to the lower load factors on our flights.
- CO2/RPK was 77.3 grams in F21 compared to 57.2 grams in F20. In F20, Wizz Air had the lowest emissions in the industry expressed in CO2 per RPK amongst publicly reporting issuers as it operates the youngest fleet at the highest seat load factors.
- Wizz Air declared a target reduction to 43g CO2/RPK emissions by F30 versus its F20 baseline of 57.2g CO2/RPK.
- The key actions to deliver on CO2/RPK objective are: fleet renewal (contributing to 22 per cent reduction with the current orderbook); fuel savings initiatives (contributing one per cent reduction) and Sustainable Aviation Fuels (contributing two per cent reduction).
- We improved Board gender diversity by nine per cent to a total 27 per cent, Management Team gender diversity by 10 per cent to 27 per cent.
- Our team includes more than 50 different nationalities at all levels in the organization, and we continue to make strides forward towards more balanced gender representation.
- We have worked diligently to better align our F21 disclosures with TCFD recommendations and in support of this effort and building our capability in this important area were advised by Deloitte Hungary on best practices.
OTHER BUSINESS DEVELOPMENTS AND INNOVATION
- During F21 liquidity position was strengthened by raising £300 million from the Bank of England under the UK Government’s COVID Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF). The commercial paper will be repaid in February 2022 when it matures. The Company also raised €500 million from a Eurobond maturing in January 2024.
- An employee engagement survey was conducted with a score of 8.1, slightly ahead (+0.2 points) of the industry average with a participation rate of 79 per cent.
- Mobile application traffic and revenue has increased significantly over the past twelve months as we focused on a frictionless customer journey across our digital channels.
- Wizz Air was among the first airlines in Europe to offer automated refunds for cancelled flights due to the pandemic, now handling 95 per cent of cash conversion refund requests within a week.
- We launched the Travel Planning Map, an interactive tool designed to help passengers to stay informed on coronavirus-related travel restrictions.
- We launched a new Electronic Flight Bag (EFB), a technical solution that will replace all printed onboard manuals and materials for pilots with iPads. The new system brings increased efficiency to all aspects of flight planning.
- We recently implemented Amelia, our very first chatbot that will be serving our customers with speed, at scale.
- Wizz Air Hungary became the first airline in Europe, to obtain an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
- Further to resolutions passed by the Board on 29 December 2020, to protect the EU airline operating licence of Wizz Air Hungary Ltd’s (a subsidiary of the Company), the Board has resolved to continue to apply a disenfranchisement of Ordinary shares held by non-EEA shareholders in the capital of the Company. This will continue to be done on the basis of a ‘Permitted Maximum’ of 45 per cent pursuant to the Company’s articles of association (the “Permitted Maximum”). The decision by the Board is considered appropriate to ensure Wizz Air Hungary Ltd’s continued compliance with applicable ownership and control requirements. We will provide details on or before 5 July 2021, simultaneously with the notice of general meeting that is scheduled to take place on 27 July 2021.
- World Finance Magazine informed us we will be receiving during the month of June 2021 the recognition of the ‘most sustainable company in the airline industry in 2021’. According to the World Finance Magazine, who gave consent to pre-announce this award, the award was based amongst others on having the lowest emission intensity in the industry (as measured by CO2 per revenue/passenger/km) and our leadership potential in short-medium haul transport.
Whereas we believe that the worst impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us, forecasting the key financial KPIs for F22 remains a challenge given the lack of clarity on the timing of lifting mobility restrictions. We have outlined how we see our capacity progress for F22 and unless we see an accelerated and permanent lifting of restrictions we have outlined that we continue to expect a net income loss. As ever, we will remain disciplined on cash and cost. We do not see a need to raise additional liquidity for general purposes, and we will be repaying the outstanding commercial paper with the Bank of England when it matures in 2022.