PILATUS-BAHNEN AG can look back on a challenging 2020 financial year. The outstanding start in January was ruined in March by the lockdown, the complete standstill. The loss of two months of high turnover and the lack of international visitors led to the number of guests being halved. In the end, despite everything, there was a positive EBITDA of CHF 2.23 million. Thanks to the good past few years, nothing stands in the way of the project for the new rack railway.
The year 2020 was exceptional. The first reports from Asia of a new lung disease were registered as early as the end of January 2020. From this point on, events rolled over. The international travel market collapsed completely. Suddenly the number of guests halved compared to the previous year and things got worse. All PILATUS-BAHNEN AG operations had to close in mid-March. The crisis team immediately evaluated the measures and scenarios to limit the damage.
Offer employees security - act flexibly and reschedule
The first important step was submitting the application for short-time work for the entire workforce. Because the around 170 employees were obliged to do nothing overnight. During the entire time of the first lockdown, there was a lively exchange with employees so that uncertainty did not get out of hand.
Plan B also provided for various maintenance work on cable cars and the infrastructure to be carried out and, in some cases, to be brought forward. These measures made it possible to shorten the business interruption due to maintenance work in the autumn. In addition, the crisis team was able to develop and install the protection concepts during this time.
Finally contact with guests again
The months of April and May passed in the most beautiful spring weather. Finally, after three months of downtime, the railways, hotels, restaurants and leisure facilities were able to resume operations on June 6, 2020. Of course, in compliance with the prescribed protective measures. During the summer and autumn months, the Pilatus was very popular with many Swiss guests. The year 2020 clearly showed what has long been evident in the 100-year history of PILATUS-BAHNEN AG: The importance of international guests.
Got away with a black eye - the rack railway project on track
Covid-19 is leaving deep marks in the 2020 annual financial statements of PILATUS-BAHNEN AG. After eight fiscal years with record results, the world suddenly looks different. Total sales halved to CHF 18 million. Nonetheless, the result was a positive EBITDA of CHF 2.3 million. This was thanks to rigorous cost savings - which were not at the expense of security - and the assertion of short-time work allowances. Nevertheless, after depreciation, a loss of CHF 1.1 million results.
Despite the new situation, the Board of Directors decided to continue the project of redesigning the cogwheel railway as planned. It is a generation project that will generate added value for the next 40 years. The prudent spending policy in recent years and the creation of reserves are now paying off. A large part of the investments can be financed with your own resources. Shareholder and bank loans secure the remaining amounts.
Outlook - read from the crystal ball
It is difficult, if not impossible, to make a forecast for the next few years. The scenarios of PILATUS-BAHNEN AG envisage that 2021 will again be a very demanding year. The first few months confirm this very clearly. A slight recovery for tourism is not expected until 2022 at the earliest. "We do not expect a return to normality in international tourism until 2023. Nevertheless, we look to the future with optimism and look forward to our new cog railway in these challenging times, which will set another milestone in the long company history." says Bruno Thürig, Chairman of the Board of Directors of PILATUS-BAHNEN AG.