Star Ferry flounders in financial crisis as it records lowest passenger numbers in its history

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The Star Ferry company revealed on Thursday that a sharp drop in passenger numbers has hit an all-time low and has dented revenue this year.

According to a semi-annual report on the franchised service released by the company today, the outlook for the ferry company was about to be seen as “uncertain”.

The company’s two franchise lines carried about 3.2 million passengers in the first half of the year, the report noted, noting a 26% drop over the same period in 2021 and a 68% drop from 2019. .

According to reports, ticket revenue fell below HK$10 million this year, 24% lower than in 2021 and 65% lower than in 2019, with an average income of HK$150. from Hong Kong per trip.

However, the company had to pay costs of HK$1 million per week, including total operating expenses, staff salaries, repairs and maintenance costs.

“Closing borders continues to halve patronage,” a spokesperson quoted in the report explaining the reasons for the company’s dilemma.

The new East Rail extension of the MTR has contributed to the further marginalization of ferries, the spokesman said, as the railway’s cross-section has reduced travel time for passengers.

“The expiration of contact engagements involving certain equipment has resulted in lower non-farebox revenue,” the spokesperson added.

Two routes are now in operation on the Star Ferry – Wanchai to Tsim Sha Tsui and Central to Tsim Sha Tsui – with fares up to HK$3.20 on weekdays and HK$4.20 on weekends and days holidays.

Chow Cheuk Yin, the current chief executive of Star Ferry, said in March this year that the company’s revenue had seen a continuous decline from June 2019, racking up a total loss of more than HK$70 million. Kong.

In order to maintain service, Chow said, the company has no choice but to pay off its estimated debt, which will likely remain unpaid until 2047.

Iconic ferries with over 124 years of history attract thousands of people around the world.

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