Philippine Airlines reports P9-B Q1 loss over coronavirus pandemic

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 23) – Philippine Airlines said on Thursday it lost billions of pesos in January to March as the entire aviation industry took a big blow in light of travel restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the flag carrier said it incurred a “comprehensive loss” of $183.1 million (around P9 billion), widening the gap from $14.7 million (about P725 million) in losses during the same period last year.

PAL said it began the year with a “healthy” net income of $37 million (around P1.8 billion) before the pandemic forced governments to restrict travel as early as February.

“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 a “new normal” in air transportation,” it said.

Among the cost control measures implemented by PAL are “a delay in the delivery of new aircraft, the suspension of capital expenditures, adoption of a skeletal work force set up during the current crisis period, cuts in senior management salaries and cutback on non-essential expenses,” the statement read.

To recall, PAL also laid off some 300 employees in February in a bid to reduce losses amid the global health crisis. Fellow airlines AirAsia and Cebu Pacific followed suit in the past months, with the budget carrier set to let go of 800 more employees in August.

Despite this, the airline still managed to do its part in contributing to the country's response to the coronavirus crisis. Since March, it operated 640 local and international cargo flights transporting medical and food supplies, along with 222 sweeper and repatriation flights catering to passengers stranded in various countries, PAL's statement read.

The airline added it brought back regular weekly commercial flights on a limited basis to select countries starting June. This August, it will begin offering over 100 domestic and international flights per week, coupled with plans to “progressively” increase routes and flight frequencies.