On Thursday, national flag carrier Philippine Airlines confirmed it incurred a comprehensive loss of $183.1 million for the first quarter of this year, ending March 31, 2020. The losses can be attributed to the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Based on PAL’s media statement on its Annual Stockholders Meeting (ASM), the airline reported a “healthy” P1.8 billion net income ($37 million) for January 2020. It is a positive reversal of a loss of P726 million ($14.7 million) registered in 2019 alone.
However, the carrier experienced a significant downturn in sales and demand due to the pandemic. International and domestic air travel slumped beginning February and March, respectively, as countries shut borders to control the virus.
PAL ceased all domestic and some international flights from mid-March until early-June as the National Capital Region was placed under the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). The cessation of air services led to the hemorrhaging losses airlines still experience to date.
“To address the impact of the flight shutdown that persisted into April and May, PAL’s shareholders have infused new capital and endorsed an aggressive strategy to generate revenues and control costs, as the flag carrier gears up for the “new normal” in air transportation,” it said.
In May, Philippine Airlines President and Chief Operating Officer Gilbert Santa Maria, in an interview with ANC, said business magnate Lucio Tan poured in P15.2 billion to keep the national flag carrier afloat. The chief admitted, without the liquidity, PAL “would probably be not here anymore.”
The flag carrier has experienced significant losses over the years. The company filed losses of P4.61 billion in 2017, P2.84 billion in 2018, and almost quadrupling to P10.2 billion for last year.
Since March, PAL continued to perform its duty as the national flag carrier as it operated 640 domestic and international cargo flights. As it remains to rebuild its route network slowly, the airline plans to fly 122 weekly flights by August.
Photo from Philippine Airlines