Airservices delivers safe and continuous service amid ongoing disruption

Airservices Australia has published its 2020-21 Annual Report, highlighting our ability to adapt, maintain momentum and ensure the continuity and integrity of our service delivery amid another year of disruption.

During the last financial year, international airline traffic declined by 68 per cent and domestic air traffic rose and fell with border closures, leading to an overall 24 per cent drop in traffic on the previous year, which had already been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

CEO Jason Harfield said, in this challenging and volatile environment, Airservices sharpened its focus on customer delivery and preparing for the technological disruption ahead.

“It is a testament to the professionalism and dedication of our people that we have seamlessly adapted to meet the varying needs of our customers without interruption to our services and while maintaining our exemplary safety record,” he said.

“This year, we pushed ahead with key projects that will prepare the industry for technological change and lay the foundations for the future so we can better support our customers, communities and people.”

In 2020-21, our keystone OneSKY project continued to progress with the completion of the CMATS critical design review and construction of two new state-of-the-art Air Traffic Services Centres in Melbourne and Brisbane.

In supporting and enabling OneSKY and our future aviation services, we entered into a new managed services contract to commence the design and planning phase of our Enterprise Network Modernisation Program that will futureproof our critical telecommunications infrastructure.

During the year, we also commenced a series of initiatives to integrate new airspace users such as drones and urban mobility vehicles. Mr Harfield said this was vital as the aviation industry continued to evolve at pace, despite the pandemic.

“Digitalisation and automation will allow us to be flexible and responsive in delivering cost-effective services in a busier and more complex airspace,” he said.

Our financial performance in 2020-21 was again significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our airways revenue dropped 56 per cent on the previous year to $327 million with an underlying net loss after tax of $471 million, excluding Government assistance.

To offset the reduction in revenue, we delivered $100 million in cost savings through a range of initiatives. Additionally, the Federal Government provided financial assistance totalling $1.1 billion in 2020-21 to ensure we could continue to deliver our critical services throughout the downturn. This included $550 million in late June 2021 to continue funding our essential services in 2021-22.

“The rate of recovery of the airline industry is being determined by the vaccine rollout as well as sustained consumer confidence. As borders reopen, we are optimistic and confident the industry will rebound and come back even stronger,” Mr Harfield said.

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