BC Ferries says record passenger numbers led to double profits in first quarter

Times Colonist

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BC ferries / ship noise
A BC ferry crossing Howe Sound to Sunshine Coast / Shutterstock

By carrying record vehicle and passenger numbers, BC Ferries doubled its first-quarter profit in fiscal 2020, compared with last year, according to an earnings report released Aug.15.

For the three months ended June 30, BC Ferries saw a $12.2 million profit, up from $6 million in the same period in 2018. “Net earnings are essential for us to fulfill our commitment to support the growing needs of coastal communities,” said chief executive Mark Collins in a statement.

“With the public interest in mind, we reinvest all earnings back into the ferry system. This is evidenced by our $26 million of investments this quarter.

“This enables expanded service to communities, larger ships, upgraded terminals, debt reduction and financial sustainability.”

To accommodate higher traffic volumes, BC Ferries operated 700 more sailings during the quarter than it did at the same time last year

During that time, BC Ferries also introduced the vessel Northern Sea Wolf and re-introduced the upgraded Spirit of Vancouver Island into service.

That translated into a 7.3 per cent increase in revenue and a five per cent increase in expenses.

During the quarter, BC Ferries operated more than 45,000 sailings — an average of 497 sailings per day — carrying 5.8 million passengers and 2.4 million vehicles, an increase of 2.2 per cent and 2.5 per cent, respectively, compared to the first quarter last year.

Its revenue in that time period jumped to $246 million from $229 million last year.

Operating expenses also increased, going to $220 million this year compared with $210 at the same time last year.

During the first quarter, BC Ferries invested $26 million as part of its $3.9-billion capital plan that is geared to replacing vessels and upgrading terminals.

Collins said the plan is essential to ensure that service meets increasing demand from passengers.

“We need to replace half of our fleet over the next 15 years as we incorporate clean technology and increase capacity,” Collins said.