The impact of COVID-19 was felt across all dnata businesses, and in 2020-21 dnata recorded a loss of AED 1.8 billion (US$ 496 million) for the first time. This includes impairment charges of AED 766 million (USD 209 million) on goodwill and other intangible assets across all its divisions.
With reduced flight and travel activity across the world, dnata's total revenue decreased by 62% to AED 5.5 billion (US$ 1.5 billion). dnata’s international business accounts for 62% of its revenue.
dnata continued to lay the foundations for future growth with investments in 2020-21 amounting to AED 328 million (US$ 89 million). During the year, dnata completed the purchase of Destination Asia, bringing one of Southeast Asia’s top destination management companies fully under the dnata Travel Group umbrella. It also pressed ahead with key investments to strengthen the business including the opening of a new state-of-the-art cargo facility in Manchester; upgrades to technology across its leisure and corporate travel businesses; the setting up of a dedicated inflight retail centre of excellence in the UK to serve global customers; and the opening of its second catering facility in Dublin.
In 2020-21, dnata’s operating costs decreased by 48% to AED 7.4 billion (US$ 2.0 billion), in line with reduced operations in its Airport Operations, Catering and Travel divisions across the world.
dnata’s cash balance was AED 4.7 billion (US$ 1.3 billion), a decline by 12%. Cash used in financing activities, primarily payments for loans and leases, amounted to AED 548 million (US$ 149 million), while the business utilised net cash of AED 149 million (US$ 41 million) in essential investing activities. The business saw a positive operating cash flow of AED 10 million (US$ 3 million) in 2020-21 despite the sharp decline in revenues and the unprecedented volumes of refunds in its travel division.
UAE Airport Operations
Revenue from dnata’s UAE Airport Operations, including ground and cargo handling declined to AED 1.7 billion (US$ 455 million).
The number of aircraft turns handled by dnata in the UAE declined by 59% to 78,000. This reflects the impact of the suspension of scheduled passenger flights at both Dubai airports (DXB and DWC) in March 2020 as part of the UAE’s pandemic containment measures. dnata’s cargo handling declined by 18% to 575,000 tonnes, reflecting the reduced available flight capacity in the overall air cargo market over the year.
International Airport Operations
dnata’s International Airport Operations division revenue declined by 43% to AED 2.3 billion (US$ 617 million), reflecting the broad impact of the global pandemic across markets. International airport operations continue to represent the largest business segment in dnata by revenue contribution.
The number of aircraft turns handled decreased by 57% to 211,000, on account of lower business volumes; whereas there was only a minor 5% decline in cargo handled to 2.1 million tonnes given the strong air freight demand across many markets.
During 2020-21, dnata’s Airport Operations division continued to strengthen its international reach and capability. In Singapore and Australia, it introduced new high-tech cool dollies to enhance its pharma and perishables handling capability; in Italy its subsidiary, Airport Handling SpA, partnered with Beta Trans to provide full cargo services to customers at Milan Malpensa Airport; and in Indonesia, dnata entered the market through a partnership with PT UNEX Rajawali Indonesia (UNEX) where both entities will make joint investments in ground handling facilities, equipment, and training.
dnata continued to win new contracts in 2020-21. Notably, in Australia dnata began ground handling for Qantas at most of its major airports and GTA dnata, its joint-venture company in Canada, was awarded a five-year ground handling license for ramp, passenger, and cargo warehousing services at Vancouver International Airport.
In 2020-21, dnata executed the US’s first green turnaround of a customer aircraft at New York JFK, an achievement made possible by its previous investments in zero-emission, electric ramp ground support equipment. Its airport services brand, marhaba, opened an expanded and refurbished lounge at Dubai International airport, and expanded its international network with a new lounge in Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
dnata’s Catering business accounted for AED 1.0 billion (US$ 285 million) of dnata’s revenue, significantly down by 68%. The inflight catering business uplifted nearly 16.9 million meals to airline customers, a substantial decrease of 82%. This is primarily due to the full year impact of the pandemic situation including a nearly 12-month shut down of the facilities in Australia which dnata had acquired only two years ago.
Through the year, the Catering division adapted its products and services to meet new customer requirements, including the provision of meals for quarantine facilities. It also worked with local organisations in Australia, Ireland, Italy and the UK to support communities in need.
Progressing with key investments for its future growth, dnata Catering inaugurated a second state-of-the-art catering facility in Dublin, introduced new bio-digesters to reduce food waste across its operations, and solar panels at its Singapore facility as part of its commitment to reduce its environmental footprint.
Revenue from dnata’s Travel Services division has declined by 96% to AED 130 million (US$ 35 million). The reported total transaction value (TTV) of travel services sold declined by 98% to AED 229 million (US$ 62 million). Excluding the impact of COVID-19 related cancellation of bookings, revenue from Travel division declined by 89% to AED 294 million and the TTV dropped by 83% to AED 1.7 billion.
dnata’s Travel division saw corporate and leisure travel demand dry up across markets.
Throughout an incredibly tough year with a fast-changing global travel environment, dnata’s Travel division focussed on initiatives to support its customers and provide value. Across its travel brands, dnata helped its customers rebuild traveller trust by processing refunds and rebookings, and providing the latest travel information.
dnata Travel Group continued to secure growth opportunities. During the year, it provided online booking capability for London City Airport in the UK, and expanded its reach in Oman through a partnership with OUA Travel that enables Oman-based trade agents to promote and sell Gold Medal’s wide range of travel products to their customers.
In the UAE and GCC region, dnata’s Travel business remained steady. dnata leveraged its established home market presence and the re-opening of Dubai for international travel to promote the UAE, and its UAE-based tour operating division Arabian Adventures started new experiences.