Our ability to deliver a safe and continuous service amid ongoing disruption has again been tested and proven in 2020-21.
This year marked 100 years of civil aviation regulation in Australia with the enactment of the Air Navigation Act in early 1921 and the subsequent formation of our ancestral predecessor, the Civil Aviation Branch. This milestone launched our nation’s industry, connecting Australians with each other and the world in a way that had not occurred before. Over the century, Australia has delivered an exceptional aviation safety record that is globally respected to this day.
In that time, Australian civil aviation has grown from a few mostly postal and aeromedical services to over 4 million annual air traffic movements that carry 160 million passengers and millions of tonnes of freight. All the while supporting an aviation ecosystem that generates economic growth, creates jobs and facilitates both national and international commerce and tourism.
Over the last century, there have been very few periods where civil aviation has been as severely disrupted as it has by the COVID-19 pandemic. As Australia’s civil air navigation and aviation rescue fire fighting service provider, we have responded to this disrupted and uncertain operating environment by continuing to support all who use our skies.
During the year, air traffic patterns changed substantially from the long-standing norms. We have seen significantly reduced international commercial air traffic, a disrupted pattern for domestic air traffic, a surge in aviation activity at regional airports and the continuation of intra-state charter flights, particularly fly-in-fly-out services.
In this challenging and ever-changing environment, it is a testament to the professionalism and dedication of our people that we have seamlessly adapted to meet the varying needs of our customers. We have done this without interruption to our services while still maintaining our exemplary safety record.
Like many across the aviation industry, our financial performance for the year ending 30 June 2021 was severely affected by the pandemic. Our airways revenue was 56 per cent lower than the previous year at $327 million with an underlying net loss after tax of $471 million. This was the second year in which we had been affected by the pandemic.
Ordinarily, airline customers are the source of over 90 per cent of our revenue, with more than half of that generated by international flights. As the pandemic hit and airline traffic diminished, our revenue was severely reduced. Over the course of the year, Government funding has been vital in enabling us to continue to deliver our essential services and provide much needed direct support to customers via domestic fee waivers. Three grants of financial assistance (totalling $1.1 billion) were received to support ongoing operations.
Assisting in offsetting the reduction in our revenue, we also targeted and delivered over $100 million in cost savings through a range of initiatives. These savings came as we implemented efficiency improvements and adjusted our operating model to better support customers in a challenging aviation environment.
Notwithstanding the pandemic, the aviation industry continues to evolve at pace, with new airspace users such as drones and urban air mobility vehicles entering our skies and integrating with current air traffic. We had already begun to transform and reposition our organisation to continue the focus on our customers and to tailor our service delivery to their needs. This focus, together with our maturing strategy to prepare for technological disruption and build the foundations for the future, stood us in good stead when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.