A shift to managing airports and motorways led to losses for France’s Vinci as the firm said on Friday it suffered a net loss of €294 million ($349 million) in the first half of this year.
The company holds a 70 per cent stake in the joint venture that operates Cambodia’s three international airports.
The firm entered those sectors to balance out swings in the construction industry but coronavirus lockdowns scored a trifecta in disrupting all of those sectors.
Vinci had earned a profit of more than a billion euros during the first half of last year.
Revenue in the first half of the year fell by 15 per cent, to €18.5 billion.
Most construction sites were forced to close during the lockdowns, with revenue down 11 per cent compared to the first half of last year. But work has resumed quickly and Vinci expects the revenue for that sector to fall this year between five and 10 per cent.
Vinci said orders have resumed as well, including the landing of a big contract to build the new headquarters of French oil group Total.
In the motorways unit, revenue fell by 27 per cent to 1.9 per cent due to lower traffic levels following the introduction of lockdown measures. In the second quarter, most of which was covered by lockdowns, revenue fell by 46 per cent.
Traffic levels fell 32.8 per cent for the first half but began recovering in May and had returned to nearly normal last month.
But Vinci said it still expects a 15-20 per cent contraction in overall traffic for the year.
At the airports division revenue fell 45 per cent in the first half, and the drop was 89 per cent in the second quarter.
By passenger numbers, the drop was 96 per cent in the second quarter and Vinci expects a very slow recovery as it said passenger numbers for the year are likely to be down 65 per cent.
Vinci did not give a forecast for overall revenue.
While the airports business, which currently has 45 airports worldwide including London’s Gatwick, is likely to suffer for some time, Vinci has no regrets getting into the business.
“We are long-term people, we look far ahead,” said CEO Xavier Huillard when presenting the results.
Airport management concessions often last dozens of years.
“There is no reason why air traffic won’t restart in the coming years,” he said. “We simply have to be patient.”
Last week the International Air Transport Association said global air traffic will not return to levels seen before the coronavirus pandemic until at least 2024.