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Edited Transcript of VIEV.VI earnings conference call or presentation 19-May-20 1:00pm GMT

Q1 2020 Flughafen Wien AG Earnings Call

Vienna Airport Jun 28, 2020 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Flughafen Wien AG earnings conference call or presentation Tuesday, May 19, 2020 at 1:00:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Christian Schmidt

Flughafen Wien Aktiengesellschaft - Head of IR

* Günther Ofner

Flughafen Wien Aktiengesellschaft - CFO & Member of the Management Board

* Julian Jäger

Flughafen Wien Aktiengesellschaft - COO & Member of the Management Board

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Conference Call Participants

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* Andrew Lobbenberg

HSBC, Research Division - Head of the European Transport Team

* Bernd Maurer

Raiffeisen CENTROBANK AG, Research Division - Head of Company Research & Chief Analyst

* Stephanie Fabienne D'Ath

RBC Capital Markets, Research Division - Analyst

* Vladimira Urbankova

Erste Group Bank AG, Research Division - CEE Pharma Analyst

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Good day, and welcome to the Vienna International Airport conference call. Today's conference is being recorded. At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to Christian Schmidt. Please go ahead, sir.

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Christian Schmidt, Flughafen Wien Aktiengesellschaft - Head of IR [2]

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Hello, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to our conference call for the results of the first quarter 2020 of Vienna Airport. Thank you for joining us in these challenging times, and I hope you are doing well. Today's presentation will be held as usual by our Board members, Mr. Günther Ofner and Mr. Julian Jäger. The presentation will be followed by a Q&A session, where you will be given the opportunity to ask the questions. The call will be recorded and will be available on our website by tomorrow noon. The slides of the presentation that will be held now are also available on our website under Presentation.

And now I would like to hand over to our CFO, Mr. Ofner. Please go ahead, sir.

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Günther Ofner, Flughafen Wien Aktiengesellschaft - CFO & Member of the Management Board [3]

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Yes. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Today's call is intending to give you an information about our first quarter '20 results. But I would, firstly, make a more general assessment of our situation. As you might be aware, we are, since mid of March, more or less in quite modest, so roughly 99% of passengers decrease and except some flights from cargo and some flights that are intended to return back, Austrians, and a very little number of scheduled flights. We are still in a situation as it started 2 months before.

Some of you might be curious how we made our measures to go through this crisis, and we had a press release just recently where we outlined that we made a very substantial savings program of roughly EUR 220 million. And on the other hand, we are taking part in the short work program of the Austrian government. So more or less, our total workforce is now part of the program, which refunds a substantial part of personnel expenses. So roughly estimate is that more 50% -- more than 50% of the personnel expenses are covered through this program. And this program will be valid now for mid of June, and we already applied for another 3 months prolongation. So that it should be in effect the latest until end of September.

What we do not know right now is which form of consecutive programs will be offered by the Austrian government. But I'm relatively sure that there will be some additional program. And our savings program was set up with the scenario that we will not see a substantial traffic until the end of the year. So from today's perspective, I would say this is really the worst case. So hopefully, we will see some kind of recovery. And Julian Jäger then can give you some more light on that when he's presenting the traffic figures.

What we additionally provided for is that we have sufficient credit lines that the liquidity of the company is on the safe side. Even if the crisis would go on until mid next year, I think, fortunately, we would not be in the position that we would be in danger to run out of liquidity. So from that perspective, I think we are well prepared. Whatever comes will come, and we will master the crisis. Might be the case that the company will look much different in 1 year from now, and we would have to cope with less traffic and less revenues for a considerable period of time. But I think we have done all the necessary measures that the company does not risk survival or it would even come into a substantial negative territory.

Saying that, I think the first quarter is some kind of history because until mid of March, we saw even a growth in passenger numbers and in our revenues. But overall, we now had a decline of 18.6% in regard of passengers, the same in Vienna with 18.8%. And we had a revenue decrease of 9% to EUR 161.4 million. EBITDA, down 17% to EUR 59 million; EBIT lower by 31.2% to 26.4%. Net profit, EUR 16.1 million, which is minus 36.6%. These figures already include a cautious provision for potential impairments of EUR 3.1 million. So this is a preliminary action. And hopefully, we will not need it, but that is not simply in our hands. So we have to see if all our counterparts finally are in the position to pay the bills and how finally the situation of our customers will look like.

If we go down the line, you see profit and revenue drop due to the COVID-19 crisis. It affected all parts of our earnings and our activities. And if you look at the financial result, there, you'll see the first effects also and we had to put out the gains we saw last year. But in regard of our deposits, we do not see any risk, also not in the financial investments we did because we are on the safe side there.

If we look at the expenses, you might see already some effects of cost reductions. But unfortunately, you cannot react in 2 weeks to press down costs all over the board. So we see some increase in personnel expenses of 3.9% and the short work effects were very low in March. They will be much better now in April and May. Other operating expenses could be reduced significantly, and they will also be substantially reduced throughout the rest of the year.

If we look at the net debt situation, it's stable. It stays already where it was end of the year '19. Clearly, it will go up throughout the years, the year hand-in-hand with the results that can be expected at least for the coming 2 quarters to be clearly on the negative side. Cash flow also was down, and CapEx was at roughly EUR 21.9 million, so 15% below last year. And in regard of CapEx, we will see maybe a double digit figure. So the reduction will take place from expected EUR 220 million plus below EUR 100 million throughout the year, due to the fact that we delayed or canceled CapEx and projects we had in our plan for 2020 originally. In which case, this means that we will totally stop the project or what will be simply be postponed. We will have more visibility maybe end of the year. Definitely, we are finalizing the work on our new office park, and it will not be opened these days as it was originally planned, but it should be opened throughout the summer so that we can start operation in September. We are also finalizing the refurbishment of Terminal 2. The work there is progressing sufficiently. We will see some delay, but from today's perspective, we should be operational somewhere after the first quarter of next year. So the delay will not be very, very substantial.

If we look at the share price, it's reflecting the overall situation. So it went down to a very low level and somehow came back now to around EUR 25, EUR 26, which is in line or slightly better than other listed airports did.

The overall situation showed that even a closed airport or a partly closed airport is still a lifeline for a whole country as it was the case for Austria because there were many flights who brought in the necessary medical goods and even passenger planes from Austrian were used to transport cargo in that respect from China or from Malaysia or other parts of the world, and this worked very fine.

We are especially keen to provide highest health priorities. And the specific service we started is PCR testing on the airport with the facility on the airport. Yesterday, we tested 230 persons and the demand still is growing. And it's a very essential tool to allow those people who are forced to travel now that they can avoid 2 weeks quarantine because once they are tested negative, no quarantine is necessary. And on the other hand, we have passengers who leave Austria, who need for immigration or also to avoid quarantine a recent health certificate that they are COVID-19 negative, and this is also provided from our site.

There are many other measures to provide safety and some confidence in healthy traveling on the airport. That includes mask, obligatory masks, disinfection, shielding for the counters, distancing and a lot of other detailed steps. And they all should provide that you can travel without being infected.

We have not given so far a new total estimation of our financial results for the whole year 2020 because still, it's not really possible to estimate to which extent flights will be allowed. We see some light on the end of the tunnel, given the fact that Austria is lifting travel bans, most likely from 15th of June with neighboring countries like Germany and Switzerland. And we are still waiting for more information which other countries could be included in that lifting the ban. And the amount of traffic we can assume for the rest of the year is totally linked to that policy of lifting travel bans or quarantine provisions and things like that because this will very heavily impact the number of people who are traveling by plane.

I already mentioned the reduction of investments. Maybe you have been aware already that we put our general assembly to the beginning of September. So the Friday, 4th of September, 2020, because it was not possible to have an attended general assembly before. And hopefully, everything will work then.

So that's the main information from my side, and I hand over to Julian.

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Julian Jäger, Flughafen Wien Aktiengesellschaft - COO & Member of the Management Board [4]

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Thank you, Günther. Good afternoon. I would like to talk a bit about the current traffic situation. I would like to discuss a bit with you the situation around Austrian Laudamotion, first, thoughts on the schedule for summer, autumn and next year. And then just a few words regarding our segment results.

I don't want to bore you with our traffic development in the first quarter. This is really old news. We were down in terms of traffic in the group, 18%. We were down in terms of cargo by 5%. As Günther said, we were on course to 34 plus/minus million passengers when corona was felt. Obviously, all airlines were -- is very significant, and we have a very basic flight schedule going on right now.

So right now, we are down to, yes, 99.5% in passenger numbers. On good days, we have 800 passengers. On bad days, we have 300 passengers. It really doesn't make that much of a difference. In terms of cargo, we are down in April, we were down 38%. And so overall, cargo is the only area where we have kind of a significant operation.

Right now, we've got Air Serbia, Belavia, Bulgaria Air, so that's our program for Eastern Europe. We've got Eurowings on Dusseldorf and Hamburg. We've got KLM to Amsterdam. We've got Lufthansa, double a day to Frankfurt. From June, Qatar Airways is starting again in Doha, and then Wizz Air started recently. That's the schedule for now. I think there's still a question mark around mid-June. As far as we know, Austrian has some plans to restart their operation by mid-June, and this probably would coincide with the opening up to the border to Germany. The conditions for air transport in terms Germany from mid-June are not fully visible yet, but I find it very difficult to imagine that the borders on for trains and for cars would be open. And if you arrive by plane, you would still have to go into quarantine for 2 weeks. But we don't have any details yet on that.

And what I can say is that the low-cost carriers are extremely eager to start. Wizz Air is on the forefront. I think Ryanair is considering starting the operation again as well. Obviously, we still have the question mark around Laudamotion.

Maybe to start with Austrian on the current situation here. We are cautiously optimistic that there will be a solution on state subsidy to be found. Right now, there are 2 stumbling blocks or 2 things which are going on. On the one hand, Austrian is negotiating with the unions and all stakeholders, including us, for a package to reduce costs for the next 3 years. And on the other hand, they are negotiating with government for state aid. I think the first couple of rounds is on the right track as far as I'm informed. Not done yet, but I think there are constructive discussions with most of the stakeholders or nearly all of the stakeholders, including us. And I think in terms of state aid, obviously, it is a big question mark on how and where the Austrian government could be a shareholder in -- there was a lot of discussion about buying shares of Lufthansa or involving themselves in Austrian Airlines. Obviously, there's the question of the guarantee of the airline Austrian here in Vienna. But overall, I think it's not without that they would go into insolvency, but I am cautiously optimistic that they would find a solution there.

We are very fine. Our discussions with Austrian, essentially, we have an agreement with them. And as always, there are a number of areas we've discussed. I think there's a lot we could do in terms of cooperation, in terms of IT cooperation, in terms of usage of areas in the terminal which they could use for their pilots and flight crews to reduce their staff costs quite significantly. These are areas which are essentially not -- unutilized today. We are discussing which services in terms of ground handling could be reduced. Obviously, we are discussing a possible extension of the contract as well. And we have the intention to support long-haul traffic and transfer in Vienna as we did in the past.

You don't have to be worried that there would be any kind of significant reduction in revenues per passenger. This is not the intention. But obviously, we would want to support the ramp-up and long-haul traffic. All under the condition and under the understanding that the path back to the new normal for Austrian would be that they achieve roughly 90% of the traffic of 2019 in 2023. So this would be the understanding for -- and I think if they've got 9 long-haul planes and plus/minus 90% of the traffic of 2019 in 2023, a lot of things would have gone well.

In terms of incentives, what we are planning for this year and next year, and this is definitely -- I mean I think all around Europe, airlines are asking for special support, ramp-up support, and we are no exception. You can imagine that the low-cost carriers, the long-haul carriers, everybody is asking for some special support. The doubt that there are any airports in Europe who managed to increase their revenue per passenger right now. We think -- and this is not done yet, so with nothing communicated. And therefore, I cannot give you the details. But what we consider is to waive landing charges in 2020. And we are considering a very significant ramp-up incentive for next year under the condition the traffic -- for those airlines who offer the same capacity in 2021, which they would have offered in 2020. So therefore, this might cost us some money if we are anywhere close to 2020. If we are far off 2020 in terms of passenger number, obviously, this incentive would be very cheap for us. Details will be communicated in the coming weeks. And I think -- yes, it's obvious that as long as we don't have any visibility, we cannot give you here the details.

But I think this is a package, which should be very attractive for Austrian Airlines and which should be attractive for the other carriers as well. Obviously, all the measures have to be done in a legal way, in a way where competition law is 100% adhered to.

Our second patient right now is Laudamotion, where there are heavy and really there's a fierce betting going on between the management of Ryanair/Laudamotion and the unions. The threat is that the Laudamotion base would be closed. My personal assumption would be that this does not necessarily mean that there would be no aircraft from the Ryanair group in Vienna. They could fly into Vienna. They could fly into Vienna with Laudamotion planes. But from their bases in Germany and Palma. There could be flights from Ryanair as there are already today, some Ryanair aircraft flying for Laudamotion. So I don't think that -- and this is what O'Leary said as well, that I don't think that this necessarily would change their strategy for Vienna. But yes, we will have to see, but I don't think that this would mean that there would be no Ryanair engagement completely in Vienna. And as I told you, Wizz Air is giving us some indication as well that they intend to resume their growth later on this year and definitely next year.

Just with the segment results. I think you've seen the figures. Airport was down; external revenue, minus 9%; EBITDA, minus 12%; EBIT, minus 3.4%. Obviously, the second quarter will not look as nice. Handling was on an excellent path till mid-March. We were down plus/minus 15% in staff cost per movement of ground handling. EBIT was down minus EUR 2 million. Revenue was down roughly EUR 2 million as well. Yes, right now, there is hardly an operation going on apart from cargo.

And retail was on an excellent way, we had plus 15% in terms of revenues from retail. We managed to increase the PRR by 3.3% until the end of February. Now all the shops are empty and there will be very difficult discussions with all our operators in the coming months. Right now, all the shops are closed with the exception of 2 supermarkets, and we will have to see when traffic resume.

I mean overall, my best guess would be that we will have some traffic in summer, but it still will be very limited. I think the traffic in Germany should open up to a certain extent by mid-June. I think in summer, we will see some operation probably to some sun-and-sea destinations, but nothing confirmed yet. So overall, I think we would be happy if we have something around 20% of the normal traffic in the second half of this year. But I would not be surprised if it's less than that. My personal best guess would be that autumn should be an indication how the new normal looks like. And we don't know when we will open our Terminal 2, which is currently closed, which coincidentally helps us obviously with the renovation of Terminal 2, but we don't know yet. If we need Terminal 2 in the winter schedule or if it will still be closed and would be reopened when it's finalized in Q2 in 2020.

In Malta, the situation isn't any better, the airport is closed. The whole island is shut down. Again, I think an interesting discussion between, on the one hand, the idea of some members in governments that, obviously, as an island, they are perfectly equipped to distance themselves from the rest of the world. On the other hand, the island is heavily dependent on tourism. So personally, I think this will be a very difficult decision for the government to make, and I expect there to get some news in the coming weeks, if and how Malta would open up for tourism this summer.

Yes. First quarter revenue down minus 17%, EBIT minus 53%. And still a lot of uncertainty around the opening up the airport and aviation. And a similar situation in Kosice. So not that important for our P&L, the airport is still closed and there is no indication yet when there will be, again, passenger flight in Kosice.

Yes. I think it's not as structured as usually, but it's from our end so far. And now we are happy to discuss your questions.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) We will now take our first question from Vladimira Urbankova of Erste Bank.

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Vladimira Urbankova, Erste Group Bank AG, Research Division - CEE Pharma Analyst [2]

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I have one major question related to your [homework]. Of course, the external circumstances, we cannot choose and we have to adapt. But this targeted more than EUR 220 million savings. In which areas do you plan to achieve those savings? Where we will see it when we are projecting your results for 2020? So this is, I assume...

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Günther Ofner, Flughafen Wien Aktiengesellschaft - CFO & Member of the Management Board [3]

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No. It's not all over the board. Yes, it's all over the board. So it's other expenses. It's personnel expenses and all other expenses we have. What you should have in mind is that this sum is based on the assumption that we will not see substantial traffic until the end of the year. Why am I mentioning this? Because if we would see substantial traffic or at least growing traffic, then clearly, we would use more workforce. But on the other hand, we would receive revenue. So this should be somewhere neutral. So the total sum is on the assumption that all our workforce is in the short work program until the end of the year, and we are not seeing substantial traffic. If we would see growing traffic, then people would gradually come back, so the percentage of the personnel cost subsidy would be lower. But on the other hand, we would have respective revenues. So therefore, we choose this scenario to give a best guess assumption what we can save.

So if you put that all together, you could assume that we could digest maybe 45% to 50% revenue decrease unless we get in negative territory. So if we would assume that we get 50% or 55% of the revenues throughout the year, then the results could be somewhere at 0, a red 0 or a black 0. And operationally, and it will now depend where finally traffic results are. If we are below the line, if you ask me now, I think it's more likely that we will not see 50% or 55% of our revenue compared to 2019 because this would imply the traffic goes up in the second half very substantially. But it's still not possible to rule it out totally. So we will have to see how things are developing. It is also depending how the situation for Austrian Airline looks like, as Julian said before. I think that it's more likely that the Austrian government will find a solution to support Austrian. If this would not be the case, then this would change the whole assumptions again because then we would see at least a substantial period of uncertainty. And this would, in any case, a prolonged low traffic for the next month or even throughout the whole year. So that is how you should understand the situation. On the other hand, as I already mentioned, if you look on the cash flow perspective, we will substantially reduce CapEx by more than 50% compared to the planning -- to the initial planning for 2020.

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Operator [4]

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We will take our next question from Stephanie D'Ath of RBC.

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Stephanie Fabienne D'Ath, RBC Capital Markets, Research Division - Analyst [5]

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My first question, please, is on the summer capacity outlook. Could you please share what airlines has put in the system or what they haven't taken out, I should really say. And I was a little bit surprised when you said that, in terms of traffic, you wouldn't be surprised if you were 20% of the usual levels in the second half of this year. So could you maybe elaborate a little bit on why you are probably more cautious than other airports?

Secondly, in terms of helping the airlines up. You mentioned waiving landing charges and giving discounts, kind of further ramp up. Could you please let us know when we will know more about that program? I mean you did also say that you were not expecting revenue for the passenger to come down substantially. So just trying to [calibrate] these things together.

And then finally, on free cash flow. So you mentioned CapEx would probably be lower than EUR 100 million despite, I guess, free cash flow is very likely to be negative this year. Could you maybe give us your kind of best and worst case scenario on the operating and free cash flow?

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Julian Jäger, Flughafen Wien Aktiengesellschaft - COO & Member of the Management Board [6]

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Let me start with your first question. I think actually, today, the situation, I think this is all over Europe pretty much to say, that there is hardly any visibility on the second half of this year. So I think right now, there seems to be the discussion going on in a lot of southern countries, so Spain, Italy, Greece and many others, if they even should open up. So therefore, I think whatever anybody says is pure speculation. We don't know how the virus develops over the next months. So there's a lot of talk about the second wave. Probably, there's a second wave and nobody cares because the economic problems might be so much more severe. So that's why, from our end, we are very cautious. And as Günther said, we prepare ourselves that our staff is until the end of this year in this short working scheme from the government. As I said, I think 20% of the -- I don't see long-haul traffic to resume in a significant way in the coming weeks.

So summer, plus/minus 20%. I think I -- yes, I can imagine. I don't really see that it will be significantly better. And then the big question mark is what is going to happen with the winter schedule. I mean from what the airlines -- and this is just first indications. The slot request from the airlines for the winter schedule are, so far, very good. But on the other hand, this is, I think, there are a lot of technical moves to secure -- I mean nobody knows, there's a lot of speculation going on grandfather rights waiver for the winter schedule. So probably a lot of airlines assume, "Let's get the slot, and then we don't have to fly in." Still, it would be then grandfather rights. So I think there's a lot of talk, a lot of speculation. And in the end, it's completely regardless what we are telling you today because we will see in the coming months. But I don't think -- I think the new normal will be visible in the winter schedule. And then I think the most important thing is summer '21, and this is where we are concentrating our own.

On the medium term, absolutely, our intention not to lower in any way significantly the average revenue per passenger. I mean -- and that as well is very difficult to judge because we don't know the airline mix. And as long as we don't know the future of Austrian Airlines, all this is speculation anyway. But what you have to see is that, obviously, there was a lot of intention to grow from Austrian Airlines, from the low-cost carriers and so on. So this is an area where we would pay less incentives. So on the other hand, we will have to help the airlines with new incentives in 2020 and 2021. And on average, over the next 2 or 3 years, we don't have intention to lower the average revenue per passenger compared to 2019. Anything else from my end?

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Günther Ofner, Flughafen Wien Aktiengesellschaft - CFO & Member of the Management Board [7]

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No. I think cash flow is depending on traffic development. So it's the same as prognosis for the overall result. I mean we are well prepared for any scenario. And we will have sufficient liquidity to survive, as I said, even if the crisis would take until mid next year.

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Stephanie Fabienne D'Ath, RBC Capital Markets, Research Division - Analyst [8]

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But if you assume 20% of usual level of traffic for kind of the remainder of the year, where would that bring you in terms of cash consumption? What kind of...

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Günther Ofner, Flughafen Wien Aktiengesellschaft - CFO & Member of the Management Board [9]

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Yes. I would have to calculate it in detail. It's not reasonable to guess this figure. So we would have to go down and put this into our model as a scenario and look then what the result would be.

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Operator [10]

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We'll move to our next question from Bernd Maurer of RBC.

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Bernd Maurer, Raiffeisen CENTROBANK AG, Research Division - Head of Company Research & Chief Analyst [11]

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From RCB, Raiffeisen CENTROBANK. First, a clarification to the waiving of landing charges and the ramp-up incentives. Did I understand you correctly, first, that for this calendar year 2020, you intend to waive the landing charges for the flights we will see and that a ramp-up incentive is planned for the calendar year as of start of 2021? Or should these incentives go with the traffic schedule, summer schedule and winter schedule?

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Julian Jäger, Flughafen Wien Aktiengesellschaft - COO & Member of the Management Board [12]

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Yes. The one is intended for 2020 and the ramp-up for 2021. But as I said, these are initial thoughts and not confirmed yet. I expect this to be confirmed in the next 1 or 2 months.

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Bernd Maurer, Raiffeisen CENTROBANK AG, Research Division - Head of Company Research & Chief Analyst [13]

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Yes. And Mr. Jäger, you mentioned -- and happy for this some color and potential concessions are from the side of Vienna Airport for a successful restructuring of Austrian Airlines. You mentioned some deals of cooperation, where currently, it's rather not too much cooperation are receive. Either my line was bad or your line was bad. And in general, it was difficult to follow. I would ask if you could repeat these points.

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Julian Jäger, Flughafen Wien Aktiengesellschaft - COO & Member of the Management Board [14]

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No. I think what we are discussing with Austrian Airlines even before the corona crisis, that there should be more cooperation between our 2 companies to find some synergies, in particular in terms of IT services, in terms of the use of empty space in the terminal. And there, we found, I think, good areas, which doesn't cost us money but it helps Austrian to save money. So I think there's a vast area of possible cooperation. And this is -- has been confirmed now in the last few days.

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Bernd Maurer, Raiffeisen CENTROBANK AG, Research Division - Head of Company Research & Chief Analyst [15]

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Sounds good from the perspective of Vienna Airport, yes.

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Julian Jäger, Flughafen Wien Aktiengesellschaft - COO & Member of the Management Board [16]

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Obviously, there some other areas as well. But I think we are happy to assist Austrian to bring their costs down. As long as it's done in a way which is, from a competition point of view, is okay and as long as it obviously fits in our financial goals.

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Bernd Maurer, Raiffeisen CENTROBANK AG, Research Division - Head of Company Research & Chief Analyst [17]

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Is there something to be announced in more detail from your side in cooperation with Australian Airline or concessions from the airport? Or is -- it tend to remain seen only later?

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Julian Jäger, Flughafen Wien Aktiengesellschaft - COO & Member of the Management Board [18]

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No. I think obviously, all the things we do in both incentives or airport charges have to be announced because this is something we cannot do, and we don't want to do just amongst Austrian and ourselves. Obviously, the ramp-up incentive plays an important role in this cooperation as well because this will be applicable for all airlines, but obviously, as well for Austrian Airlines. So there will be...

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Bernd Maurer, Raiffeisen CENTROBANK AG, Research Division - Head of Company Research & Chief Analyst [19]

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The highest market share

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Julian Jäger, Flughafen Wien Aktiengesellschaft - COO & Member of the Management Board [20]

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Yes, in this respect. But nothing in the immediate future. But as soon as we have put together a program for all airlines, and we will communicate that.

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Operator [21]

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(Operator Instructions) And we'll move to our next question from Andrew Lobbenberg of HSBC.

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Andrew Lobbenberg, HSBC, Research Division - Head of the European Transport Team [22]

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I appreciate you can't say anything about the short-term outlook for traffic, it is really hard. But if we're trying to think about what Vienna will look like when we've got back to the new normal, whatever that is, how should we think about it? Because most airlines and airports are comparing where they think they can end up, when they can get back to 2019 traffic levels. But your traffic in 2019 was extraordinary. But I mean, is that even a sensible benchmark? Or should we forget about 30% of the low-cost carrier's surge then? So how do you think about your midterm?

You mentioned the complexity of your relations with your concessionaires, your retail partners. Will the concept of revenue guarantees survive this virus? Or do you think the structure of concession agreements will change going forward?

And then another general question, what's going to happen to the nature of ground handling competition? Because small independent ground handling firms are going to struggle everywhere. Are you going to insist on competition in ground handling? Or do we think the ground handling markets around Europe will have to change fundamentally? That will do.

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Julian Jäger, Flughafen Wien Aktiengesellschaft - COO & Member of the Management Board [23]

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Yes. Regarding your first question, I mean, you're right. We had extraordinary growth in 2018 and '19. And when we are looking forward and trying to imagine the post-corona Vienna Airport, I think the first question we have to ask ourselves, and we don't have answers yet, but the first question is do we have a hub carrier in Vienna with plus/minus 6 million transfer passengers. Because we have 31.7 million passengers, a bit more than 6 million of them were transfer passengers. So this is the first question. And this is obviously all around will Austrian Airlines survive, and how will they look after their restructuring state aid program. So obviously, if we don't or if we should not have a significant transfer traffic in the future, Vienna Airport would look very different.

I think the low-cost carriers have not lost their appetite for growth in Vienna. And I think all over Europe, that's the similar situation. Personally, I think the low-cost carriers will be the winners after corona because the environment will be perfect for airlines who want to grow. Low oil price, low price for aircraft crews available. So I think for -- plus all the other airlines on the retreat. If you look at the plans of easyJet, they want to reduce their fleet. All the legacy carriers want to reduce their capacity. So I think this will be a perfect environment for the ultra-low cost to grow. So I think I don't really see that we would lose in the segment of low cost. We would lose in the short run, but not on the medium. And then obviously, the question is what about long-haul in general? And I do hope that next year, the most of the long-haul traffic will resume. But I think it will definitely take longer for the long-haul traffic to resume compared to the intra-European traffic. And therefore, I personally think it could take a while until we get to our traffic figures in 2019 again. But if Austrian Airlines survives, I see ourselves very early again in the 20 million to 25 million passenger bracket, and this is where we were 2017. So not that long ago. And as I said, I think the next few weeks will be decisive on the future of the hub in Vienna. And after that, I think the point-to-point traffic to open medium-haul will resume relatively quickly. And then there's still the question mark around long haul. Obviously, the long-haul traffic in numbers is not that important to us. I think other airports are much mobile in terms of long-haul traffic.

But in terms of retail, long-haul is obviously extremely important. And I cannot tell you when we will see the first group of Chinese travelers again in Vienna, when 40, 50 people for the bus. But I can tell you that those people spend in -- until March, EUR 40 or EUR 50 on average in our duty-free shop. So I think in terms of concession, we will sit down with all our concessionaires, and we will check the contracts if they need some adaption. I think -- and this was always my strategy, I think in these difficult times, we have to support ourselves. So I think to insist on every minimum guarantee in times like this probably is not the partnership approach you need in a long-term relationship like these. I think it will survive to a certain extent, but I think the times will be over where you can insist on extremely high minimum guarantees. I think there will be a consolidation in the travel retail industry. And I think we have to now find a partnership approach on the short run so that in the future, we will benefit from the times when the revenues are on the level we used to have.

In terms of ground handling, I don't think that the European Union would waive completely the need for competition. It might be, and this is something which could happen on many airports very soon. If you have a competition and the competitor goes bankrupt, I think, obviously, it would -- that would need to be a period of 1, 2, 3 years, where probably only 1 ground handler is active because it might be very difficult to find now in this situation a new competitor. But I don't think that, on the medium term, the European Union would allow us to reinstall monopoly again.

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Operator [24]

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It appears that there are no further questions at this time. Gentlemen, I'd like to turn the conference back to you for any additional or closing remarks.

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Christian Schmidt, Flughafen Wien Aktiengesellschaft - Head of IR [25]

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So thank you very much, gentlemen, for the presentation and for the answers to the questions. Dear ladies and gentlemen in the audience, thank you very much for participating in this call. Please stay safe and healthy in the next couple of months and looking forward to speaking to you again soon. Please, yes, feel confident to contact me if you have any additional questions. And our presentation of today and our call, the recording will be available on our website by tomorrow noon. Thanks a lot, and have a nice afternoon.

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Günther Ofner, Flughafen Wien Aktiengesellschaft - CFO & Member of the Management Board [26]

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Thank you. Bye-bye.

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Operator [27]

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This concludes today's call. Thank you for your participation. You may now disconnect.