In the context of the coronavirus crisis, many companies began experiencing cash flow shortfalls. In order to avoid the liquidity problem, which eventually may turn into a solvency issue, businesses were forced to cut their operational costs.
As a result, only in the U.S., a record 20.5 million jobs were lost in April as the unemployment rate jumps to 14.7%. The April over-the-month decline is the largest in the history of the series and brought employment to its lowest level since January 2011 (the series dates back to 1939). Job losses in April were widespread, with the largest employment decline occurring in leisure and hospitality.
Employment in leisure and hospitality plummeted by 7.7 million, or 47 percent. Almost three-quarters of the decrease occurred in food services and drinking places (-5.5 million). Employment also fell in the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry (-1.3 million) and in the accommodation industry (-839,000).
Employment fell in transportation and warehousing in April (-584,000). Transit and ground passenger transportation and air transportation lost 185,000 jobs and 141,000 jobs, respectively. Wholesale trade shed 363,000 jobs in April, largely reflecting losses in the durable and nondurable goods components. Employment in financial activities fell by 262,000 over the month, with the vast majority of the decline occurring in real estate and rental and leasing (-222,000).
Like any other country, Australia has been hit also quite hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The Westpac/Melbourne indicator, which is designed to predict the direction of the economy, suggests that the economy is suffering one of the largest economic downturns since the Great Depression, falling 0.8% MoM in March 2020. Besides, the Reserve Bank of Australia is forecasting a contraction of 6% in 2020. In the case of the unemployment rate, this may soar to around 9% by the end of the year.
To boost the weak economy, the RBA has decided to cut interest rates to a historic low of 0,25% back in March, at the same time launching a quantitative easing program. The Board has also announced that it will not increase the cash rate target until progress is being made towards full employment.
The airline, without any doubt, is one of the most vulnerable industries now. From the beginning of the year, the Sydney Airport stock has fallen over 34%, whereas the S&P/ASX 200 index lost around 18%. The company said it is targeting at least a 35% reduction in operating costs for the next 12 months from 1 April 2020 (excluding security recoverable costs), without firing any employee for at least the next six months.
On the other hand, it is worth mentioning that unlike Auckland Airport, Sydney Airport said it did need to raise equity for the moment, given the strength of their balance sheet and, most importantly, liquidity position. To be more precise, Sydney Airport has $430m available cash, $1.75bn of undrawn bank facilities and approximately $600m of new USPP bond market debt (due to be funded in June 2020), for combined liquidity of $2.8bn, after establishing an additional 850 million dollars of new two and three-year bank debt facilities. This is comfortably more than the $1.3bn of debt maturing in the next 12 months and the $150m - $200m of expected capital expenditure over the same period.
They are also targeting a capital investment range of $150-$200m for the next 12 months from 1 April 2020 (previously the range was between $350 million and $450 million).
Finally, yet importantly, Australia and New Zealand are planning a travel corridor that will allow the quarantine-free flow of people between the two neighbors. It could be an opportunity for a rebound, but first, we should see something more substantial than mere plans.