BC Ferries has released its year-end results for the organization’s fiscal year, ending March 21, 2021, and — to be expected — the pandemic has had a major impact on traffic.
In a release issued on Friday, BC Ferries says it carried 13.1 million passengers and 6.7 million vehicles, which is a decrease of 40 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively, compared to the fiscal year ended March 31, 2020 (fiscal 2020).
In total, at fiscal year-end on March 31, 2021, BC Ferries’ net earnings were $21.0 million, a decrease of $7.8 million compared to net earnings of $28.8 million in the prior year.
The company notes, however, that this number reflects the support received from governments through the Safe Restart funding.
“This reflects BC Ferries’ recognition of $186.0 million from the $308 million in Safe Restart funding received this fiscal year. Without the $186.0 million in Safe Restart funding – recognized as revenue – the net loss for the year would have been $165.0 million,” reads a statement from BC Ferries.
Inclusive of the Safe Restart funding, revenues decreased by $76.1 million, or 8.1 percent in fiscal 2021 compared to the prior year.
Without the revenue contributed by Safe Restart funding, fiscal 2021 total revenues would have decreased by $262.1 million to $679.3 million, or 27.8 per cent lower than in fiscal 2020.
While the organization says the numbers reflect “unprecedented consequences” faced amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a feeling of optimism from BC Ferries that recent financial results are showing signs of improvement.
The ferry company points to Safe Restart funding from governments as well as B.C.’s own economic recovery as reasons they have seen some improvements.
“The company remains optimistic that traffic will begin to return as more travellers become vaccinated and as the Provincial Health Officer eases travel restrictions,” the company said in a statement on Friday.
Through the Safe Restart Program, BC Ferries was able to secure a total of $308 million from the federal and provincial governments back in December, suggesting this funding was a “critical” boost.
“We recognize the vital contributions from the federal and provincial governments with the Safe Restart funding, which we have used to continue to provide a safe and reliable ferry service for British Columbians who need to travel, as well as ensuring the delivery of essential goods to Vancouver Island and to rural and remote communities. This funding has also helped us to protect the long-term viability of the coastal ferry service,” said Mark Collins, BC Ferries’ President and CEO.
Additionally, BC Ferries says that it reduced operating expenses in fiscal 2021 by $76.3 million or 8.9 per cent — to $779.8 million from $856.1 million — as a result of reduced labour costs, fuel consumption, contracted services, depreciation expense and other miscellaneous costs.
Capital expenditures for the year also decreased to $122.0 million, down from $238.1 million.
BC Ferries says it continues to make significant investments, particularly towards decreasing its carbon footprint. Two more battery-electric hybrid Island Class vessels are currently en route to Victoria, making the Trans-Atlantic journey from a shipyard in Romania.