UPDATE 1 – France’s ADP sees slow recovery as airlines reorganize networks

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(Add details, comments, background)PARIS, July 27 (Reuters) – French airport operator ADP has said its passenger traffic could take up to seven years to fully recover from the coronavirus crisis, as airlines overhaul route networks.

Transit airports such as Paris Charles de Gaulle will suffer more than most, the French group warned, as it fell to a net loss of 543 million euros ($ 638 million) in the first half, reflecting the crippling impact of the pandemic on air transport.

“The recovery will be very gradual,” said Managing Director Augustin de Romanet. “A return to 2019 traffic levels in Paris is expected between 2024 and 2027.”

ADP gave no predictions of results for 2020, saying the impact of the crisis “cannot be accurately assessed at this stage.”

The airport group, which has started talks with unions over the job cuts, reported its results the day new UK quarantine measures rocked the European travel industry and its hopes of a steady recovery throughout long summer.

January-June revenue fell 47% to 1.17 billion euros, with passenger traffic falling 58%, driven by a 62% drop in Paris to 19.8 million passengers at Charles de Gaulle and Orly reunited.

The loss included 201 million euros in asset impairments, while earnings before interest, debt and amortization (EBITDA) fell to 39 million euros from 764 million. Net debt rose to 6.58 billion euros from 5.25 billion in December.

Stopover traffic will suffer in the coming years as airlines abandon less profitable routes as part of a major network overhaul, CFO Philippe Pascal predicted. “It works mechanically against a transit hub like Charles de Gaulle.”

The group, which is reducing its 2020 investments by 400 million euros, said it would also review its longer-term strategy “to move from a model of supporting growth to … a situation in which the activities and investments will be reduced ”. ($ 1 = 0.8509 euros) (Reporting by Laurence Frost; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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