BC Ferries reported a small loss in its third quarter results, while passenger numbers increased over the same period last year.
Vehicle and passenger traffic increased by 26 per cent and 43 per cent, respectively, although the company noted a $1.6 million loss, in the three month period ending Dec. 31.
Mark Collins, president and CEO, said the numbers are encouraging, considering the pandemic’s impact on travel during the holiday season.
“While COVID-19 continues to present staffing and operational challenges I want to take this moment to recognize the continued commitment of our employees in delivering safe and efficient service to our customers,” he said.
BC Ferries said it carried two million vehicles and 4.1 million passengers during the quarter. Year-to-date it carried 6.7 million vehicles and 14.2 million passengers.
The previous year, BC Ferries saw net earnings of $98.5 million in its third quarter, primarily because of Safe Restart Funding, a federal-provincial initiative intended to help provinces and territories safely restart their economies.
Third quarter operating expenses were $209.5 million compared to $199.0 million the same period last year. BC Ferries said the increase is due mainly to providing more round trips and higher fuel prices.
Year-to-date since April 1, 2021, net earnings were $83 million compared to $74.3 million in the same period the year before, primarily as a result of higher traffic volumes and net retail sales, partially offset by lower Safe Restart Funding applied to the current year and higher operating expenses.
BC Ferries received $308 million through the Safe Restart Program In December 2020. The goals of the Safe Restart Program are to mitigate the impact of revenue losses and COVID-19-related spending, to help restore the level of annual earnings required to maintain service levels and to keep fare increases to affordable levels through March 2024.