(Reuters) – Frankfurt Airport operator Fraport on Tuesday said it expected passenger traffic to keep improving in 2023 but stay below pre-pandemic levels, following the lifting of COVID-related travel restrictions.
The group, which operates at 31 airports around the world and counted more than 48 million passengers in 2022, expects 2023 passenger traffic to come between 80% and 90% of the level seen in pre-crisis year 2019.
Passenger travel in Fraport’s airports nearly doubled last year driven by the relaxation of travel restrictions after months of pandemic-related lockdowns, the company said in January. This was still around 30% below the 2019 figure.
“While demand was still restrained at the start of the year, passenger numbers in Frankfurt saw rapid growth of up to 300 percent from April onwards,” Fraport’s chief executive Stefan Schulte said in a statement on Tuesday.
“In mid-2022, traffic surges with three-digit growth rates, combined with staff shortages, occasionally brought us to our limits when ramping up operations,” he added.
The operator of Germany’s largest airport expects 2023 earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of between 1.04 billion and 1.2 billion euros ($1.11 billion and 1.29 billion). Analysts had forecast 2023 EBITDA of 1.17 billion euros, according to Refinitiv data.
The company’s EBITDA rose to 1.03 billion euros in 2022, from 757 million a year earlier. This was around 13% below the pre-pandemic 2019 figure of 1.18 billion euros.
Fraport, which last paid dividend for fiscal 2018, said it would not propose a dividend for 2022 either due to the continued economic impact from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Its shares were up 0.4% in early Frankfurt trade.
($1 = 0.9338 euros)
(Reporting by Anna Mackenzie and Bartosz Dąbrowski in Gdansk; Editing by Milla Nissi)