Tanzania: Swissport Lowers Profit Projections Over COVID-19 Crisis

Dar es Salaam — Swissport Tanzania - the ground handling and cargo service provider - has lowered its current year's profit projections by 83.2 percent, citing the Covid-19 pandemic that created a "tougher than anticipated" business environment.

The firm's CEO, Mr Mrisho Yassin, said that, during the Covid-19 period, the company expected Sh839 million in profit: a steep downward revision from the Sh5 billion previously forecast.

"We've downgraded our forecasts for 2020 pretty much across the board," Mr Yassin told The Citizen over the phone last week. "This has been driven mostly by the impact of Covid-19."

With most passenger flights suspended amid the pandemic, the Swissport's revenues were affected, forcing a cut in profit projection.

The company pulled down its revenue forecast for the full year to Sh28.17 billion from the Sh41 billion it predicted before the pandemic, according to Mr Yassin.

In response to the ongoing public-health crisis, lockdowns and or travel bans have been announced by various governments globally, measures which have significantly affected the aviation industry.

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Swissport Tanzania, which handles 23 customer airlines has not been spared either.

Mr Yassin said the company was now operating at between 30 to 40 percent of its normal operations for ground handling business.

He said the cargo business remained stable compared to the ground handling business.

He added that for cargo business, the company was operating at between 60 and 70 percent of its normal operations.

This is because cargo operations continued even after imposing restrictions on air transport.

Tanzania suspended all scheduled and non-scheduled international passenger flights in mid- April, before lifting the ban on May 18.

However, cargo flight crew members were allowed on condition set by individual countries of destination including being put under quarantine for the duration of their stay.

To survive the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Swissport, which has 1,000 employees, has taken a raft of cost-cutting measures including a 50 percent cut in salaries of its 400 staff who have been sent on paid leave.

The company is also in talks with some government institutions to get a relief package with a view to minimising the effect of the pandemic.

"With the government's decision to open our skies, we are confident our operations will resume normal," noted Mr Yassin.

So far Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Airways and KLM are back to the game, with Swissport saying the Swiss Air was expected to follow suit very soon.

Mr Yassin said Swiss Air was scheduled to be operating cargo flights once a week.

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