GUANGZHOU -- Hong Kong protests will cost the city's transportation network operator more than $200 million in profit, the company said Thursday, citing damage to trains and fewer passengers as some of the biggest expenses incurred during the past six months of unrest.
MTR Corp. blamed "social unrest" for decreased passenger traffic, as well as the mounting costs of repairing or replacing vandalized property. The state-owned operator, which is also a major developer and landlord in the city, also pointed to the cost of enhancing security, and the expense of supporting retail tenants adversely affected by the turmoil.
Those factors will squeeze net profit from operations in Hong Kong by 1.6 billion Hong Kong dollars ($203 million), said MTR compared to HK$9 billion for last year. The consolidated net profit was HK$16 billion in 2018.
Travelers to Hong Kong, mostly from mainland China, decreased sharply after large anti-government protests began in June. MTR's passenger volume dropped by 14.2% from a year earlier during the July-November period.
When the violence between the police and demonstrators escalated in October and November, MTR's ridership plunged by more than 27% during each of those two months.
MTR has been besieged by damages stemming from both sides of the protests. Some demonstrators set fire to train station entryways and destroyed ticket machines. Meanwhile, many businesses had to close to protect merchandise from tear gas fired by police. This has hurt MTR's real estate operations.