FRANKFURT, June 2, 2010 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- "Extraordinary times are also exciting times that offer new opportunities," said Fraport AG executive board chairman Dr. Stefan Schulte at the company's ninth regular Annual General Meeting (AGM) for shareholders today in Frankfurt-Hochst. Summarizing the company's development in 2009 as well as during the first months of this year, Schulte stressed that the airport management group had weathered the storm well during the financial crisis - which severely impacted the air transportation industry last year - and took advantage of the time to implement far-reaching decisions for the future. "Despite all of its difficulties, 2009 was a year for setting a fundamental and positive course for the company's future," said Schulte.
Schulte called the construction launch of Frankfurt Airport's (FRA) new Runway Northwest an essential step for the company's future development. The FRA capacity expansion program started last year is fully on schedule, with inauguration of new runway planned for the beginning of the 2011/12 Winter
Timetable. Currently, preparations are underway for pouring the concrete of Runway Northwest. Simultaneously, work is progressing on the taxiway bridges that will link Runway Northwest with the airport apron.
In 2009, Fraport established the basis for successfully concluding negotiations with the airlines on airport charges. Schulte described further milestones such as the basic agreement for passenger security control staff and, above all, the "Pact for the Future" for the company's aviation ground services division. These important business areas remain a vital part of the company and allow FRA to provide attractive services in the highly competitive environment of international aviation hubs.
This is the same goal of Fraport's new "Great to Have You Here" service initiative, which strives to create further improvements in service offerings by enhancing comfort and enjoyment in the terminals. The heightened expectations of international passengers for comfortable airport ambience will be met by expanding the retail offerings at FRA. Now taking shape, the new Pier A-Plus with a huge marketplace will offer a 9,000 square meter outstanding shopping experience for the approximately 25 million passengers per year that will be using Pier A and the new Pier A-Plus. Fraport is linking its growth with the goal of sustainable development. In particular, Fraport started preparations last year for a measurable reduction in noise emissions - in order to present along with partners an effective package of measures for active noise abatement.
Schulte emphasized that last year's 4.7 percent fall in passenger traffic at FRA, as well as the 10.6 percent reduction in cargo tonnage, are now history. Meanwhile, traffic has recovered and, in the case of cargo, has been clearly over compensated for. Nevertheless, in fiscal year 2009 the traffic slump led to revenue dropping by 6.1 percent to about EUR2 billion. Decisive factors here also included Fraport's divestiture of its holdings in ICTS Europe and Frankfurt-Hahn Airport.
EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) slipped by about eight percent to EUR553 million. Through adjustments in personnel costs, as well as savings in non-staff costs and tax on investments, it was possible to counteract the effects of the crisis. Thus, the company was able to realize savings of EUR28 million. Goup profit fell by some 20 percent to EUR157.3 million - primarily because of higher capital costs for realizing FRA's expansion program.
The optimism at the end of 2009 - which could be particularly felt because of the noticeable economic recovery in the Far East and the resulting rise in traffic volumes - has been confirmed by traffic during the first months of 2010, although this period was also characterized by extraordinary events. A longer and harder winter, a pilot strike and finally clouds of ash from Iceland's Eyjafjalla Volcano in April did not prevent the exceptionally positive 30 percent surge in cargo tonnage at FRA since the beginning of the year. Despite traffic drops, Frankfurt Airport still managed to record a 3.9 percent gain in passenger figures during the first quarter of 2010. The multi-day standstill in European air traffic in April pushed FRA's passenger figures into the 1.9 minus range for the first four months of the year.
Schulte further explained that the satisfying development of the company's external business was also driving Fraport's future. Currently, Fraport is active at 13 airports worldwide, either as a full airport operator or by providing management staff under concession contracts. These airports served a total of 174 million passengers in 2009. Fraport's latest project is Pulkovo Airport in St. Petersburg, Russia. The wide range of Fraport's airport projects helped cushion the impact of the air traffic slump during the global financial crisis and the geographically-limited special developments caused by strikes, weather and ash clouds.
Thus, Schulte said he was pleased to announce to the AGM that the company was recommending a stable dividend of EUR1.15 per share for fiscal year 2009. For the current year, he expects revenue to rise thanks to the recovery in air traffic and the positive development of the Group's airports - which should result in about an EUR80 million improvement in EBITDA to EUR635. million. Despite the ash clouds, the current outlook is that passenger traffic will grow by one to two percent for 2010.
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SOURCE Fraport AG