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“Spain is fortunate to have a vibrant and very competitive air transport system, based on high quality and very efficient airports”, says Maurici Lucena of AENA

Maurici Lucena,
Chairman and CEO of Aena, Maurici Lucena.

Aena’s airports recorded an all-time record number of passengers in 2023: 283.2 million, a figure that surpassed the pre-pandemic record of 2019.

The Chairman and CEO of Aena, Maurici Lucena, stressed at the group’s General Shareholders’ Meeting that “Spain is fortunate to have a vibrant and very competitive air transport system, based on high quality and very efficient airports”. He also highlighted the good results obtained in 2023, both financially and in terms of passenger traffic, as well as the consolidation of the international business. Lucena pointed out that Aena ended the year not only with excellent results, but also with the management of a record volume of passengers with high levels of safety and service quality and with a high degree of compliance with sustainability targets, which are the hallmarks of the company’s identity.

Passenger traffic: overall record

Aena’s chairman reminded shareholders that, in 2023, the pandemic was definitively behind us and an all-time passenger record was reached with 283.2 million passengers, 16.2% more than in 2022 and 2.9% more than in 2019, the previous record year.

Thus, in 2023, the passenger volume of the Aena Group, which includes London-Luton and the airports of Northeast Brazil in addition to the Spanish airports, exceeded 314 million passengers, 16% more than last year and 2.3% above 2019.

Commercial and real estate activity

The results and milestones in the commercial and real estate areas have largely contributed to the company’s record results in 2023. “The commercial activity of our airports enjoys excellent prospects, which are reflected in the results of the tenders carried out since 2022, with very significant growth in rents. Of the contracts awarded in 2023, those for Tax-Free Shops and Food and Beverage stood out,” Lucena said.

International consolidation

In the international arena, Maurici Lucena pointed out that in 2023 Aena increased its international assets by raising the capacity of Luton airport in London to 19 million passengers per year, the successful completion of the investments in the 6 airports in the Northeast of Brazil and the takeover of the new 11 airports of what are referred to as the BOAB group, with Congonhas-Sao Paulo at the head. Aena currently manages 20% of Brazil’s air traffic.

Financial strength and gross dividend of 7.66 euros per share

In terms of financial results, Aena’s chairman stressed that the net profit of 1,630.8 million euros achieved in 2023, 80.9% more than in 2022, reflects the positive evolution of the business and a decrease in financial expenses.

The General Shareholders’ Meeting approved the distribution of a gross dividend of 7.66 euros per share, to be charged against 2023 earnings. In this regard, it should be noted that in the Strategic Plan 2022-2026, Aena maintains a shareholder remuneration policy consisting of the distribution as a dividend of 80% of Aena’s annual individual net profit (pay-out), which makes the company the most attractive company in the sector in terms of its dividend policy.

Approval of the updated Climate Action Plan: 70% fewer emissions in 2023 At this Shareholders’ Meeting, Aena approved the updated report on the Climate Action Plan (CAP) for 2023, which includes the actions carried out during the past year within the framework of the 2021-2030 Climate Action Plan. The company reports to its shareholders on environmental issues every year, having become the first Spanish company and one of the first in the world to vote on this issue.

Among the main achievements, Aena exceeded the emissions reduction target set for 2023 by 9 points, with a total reduction of 70%.

In 2023, the purchase of 100% guaranteed electricity from renewable sources was maintained for the fourth consecutive year. This green energy is supplied to all companies working in the Aena airport network through its own distribution grid. The company also continues with the electrification of the fleet of vehicles operating at airports and has installed over 1,100 electric charging points at Spanish airports. Furthermore, following the awarding of new handling licences in Spain, through a public tender with stringent environmental requirements, this activity will progressively evolve towards zero emissions.

Update of the Strategic Plan 2022-2026

During his speech, Aena’s Chairman recalled that in November 2022 Aena presented its Strategic Plan 2022-2026 and that, given the good results obtained in 2023, it has recently presented an update of this plan, whose main new features are the revision of traffic forecasts and financial targets. The company expects the number of passengers in 2024 in Spain to be around 294 million and it expects to close 2026 with around 310 million; the EBITDA margin in 2026 will remain at around 59%; and Aena brings forward its “zero emissions” target by a decade, to be reached in 2030.

In view of this strong upturn in traffic, Aena is preparing for a significant increase in investment for the period 2027-2031 (DORA III) in order to synchronise airportcapacity with expected demand and also to adapt infrastructures to new safety requirements and maintain service quality.

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Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.

She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.