BC Ferries shakeup shows (early) signs of success

BC Ferries | BCBusiness
A ferry off Sidney en route to the Gulf Islands.

Fewer sailings and higher fares yield modest impact on BC Ferries’ bottom line

BC Ferries posted profit of $90.3 million over the summer, up from $68.6 million over the same six-month period in the previous year, according to the company’s second quarter results, released Monday. 

Higher fares, an uptick in traffic on its Lower Mainland to Vancouver Island routes and the growth of its ancillary businesses (the on-board shop and its vacation packages) increased the company’s revenue to $497.3 million, up from $471.4 million, over the April to September reporting period. 

The mid-year financial results offer an early sign that the government-owned operator’s much-berated corporate strategy—higher fares, vacation packages, high-end add-ons and service cuts—has had a modest affect on its bottom line. BC Ferries cut sailings over the three month high season from 48,000 in 2013 to 45,000 this year, while passenger and vehicle numbers remained nearly unchanged.

The company typically posts a profit following its summer season, followed by a loss during the last two quarters as traffic drops off, said BC Ferries CEO Mike Corrigan, in a statement. In the 2013-2014 fiscal year, that dynamic resulted in a more modest profit of $18 million, while in three of the four preceding years it posted net losses.