Aviation is one of the main victims of the COVID-19 pandemic: international air traffic has been stopped indefinitely, passenger traffic has fallen by 90%, and falling incomes due to the crisis will not allow the market to recover for a long time. The Bell spoke with Vnukovo Airport Board Chairman Vitaly Vantsev about how the industry is surviving, government measures to support the business and the future of aviation after the crisis. Watch the video version of the interview from April 8 in the special issue “Will the business survive?” on the channel "Russian norms!".
“I will not be bankrupt today - I will be in six months, when it will be necessary to pay the delayed”
- Immediately a question that probably interests the few remaining air passengers. It is clear that we are not epidemiologists, but nevertheless - what do you think, how dangerous is it now to get infected at the airport?
- The airport is the same public space as any others, but maybe more secure. Regardless of the announcement of a pandemic, we constantly carry out disinfection, constant chemical cleanings - we have such a regulation. There are no such cleaning regulations, as in airports, and there were neither in shopping centers nor in restaurants. Therefore, probably, being in the airport itself is not so dangerous. But people, after all, are mainly infected from people - you can’t think of anything new here. Gloves, masks, washing hands as often as possible - all that is told to us on TV.
- What share of passenger traffic have you lost by now? How many flights departed from Vnukovo in April 2019 and how many now?
- We lost somewhere around 95% of passenger traffic, the number of flights fell by 90%. The difference is due to the low load, in addition, flights that are exported by Russians from abroad, one way fly empty.
In absolute numbers - in 2019 in the same period, we had approximately 540 flights per day. Yesterday (Sunday, April 5th. - The Bell) there were 32 flights.
We have closed part of the international terminal. Thank God, it is so built that we can close parts of it. They left three sections of teletraps (out of 31 - The Bell), they serve "export" flights. The rest can now not cover, not heat, respectively, we spend less money on it. But we can’t close the airfield, it works 24/7, we continue to pay for electricity as usual and we keep the services in normal mode.
- And in the money? How much Vnukovo lost in March and how much do you estimate the loss for April?
- For March we have not lost anything, thank God. Still, we worked out half of March. But our situation is as follows. We get money for March in April. And in March - received for February. February was nevertheless not bad, just as the Chinese market collapsed and the European markets began to slowly close. But until March 10, everything was actively flying. Therefore, in March, we have not lost anything yet, but in April we will lose a lot. And in April, in May and in June.
- Can you name about a net minus?
- We estimate the net minus for these three months at 2 billion rubles. It is clear that no one is compensating us for these two billion.
“And do you have some kind of pillow that would allow you to simply say:“ Ok, that's 2 billion, we write them off and work on. ” Or not?
- No, there is no pillow. No one has such a pillow, so that “ok, write off”. We are spending the money that we earn on investment needs. Therefore, it’s so easy to say: “Two billion have been written off and it’s ok,” of course, one cannot say that. But, on the other hand, what to do? We assume that we invested this in the continuation of life, business. We value it like that. Do we have other options? No. Well, that’s why we’ll live like that.
“You have a debt, creditors.” Are you negotiating with them about any change in conditions?
“We are only talking about deferrals.” But they don’t tell us: “Guys, let's not calculate the interest for these three months, since we are not working.” Would it be logical? Yes. But banks tell us: “Sorry, this is just a delay, we will take it all. Anyway, you have to pay sooner or later. ” And if I do not work for three months, I apologize for what will happen when the delay is over? We, it turns out, forgive everyone everything, we must work and pay salaries, but nobody forgives us anything. I will not be bankrupt today, which means that I will be bankrupt in six months when it will be necessary to pay the delayed.