Local carriers Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Asia are expected to lose another P60 billion this year on top of last year’s estimated losses of P60 billion as the new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to wreak havoc on the aviation industry.
Robert Lim, executive director of the Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (ACAP), said at the Tapatan sa Aristocrat, the operating capacity of the Philippine airline sector of just 16 percent of its pre-COVID levels is among the lowest if not the lowest in Asean.
Lim partly attributed this to the differing protocols observed by local government units as well as their hesitance to reopen, sending confusion and dampening confidence among travelers.
According to Lim, the three carriers collectively incurred losses of P47 billion as of September 2020 and could have ended last year with P60 billion in the red.
Lim added cargo traffic cannot offset the slump in passenger travel. Cargo traffic has dropped percent from 2019 levels, he added.
He said the rebound of the travel sector depends largely on the success of the vaccine rollout which would signal further reopening of the economy and would bring back confidence among Filipinos.
Lim said a year since the onslaught of the pandemic, LGUs should by now have developed competence in setting more relaxed and safer protocols that could be adopted uniformly.
“We need to have a single policy for all the LGUs to follow,” Lim said adding that with four types of domestic travelers—locally stranded individuals, authorized persons outside residence, returning Filipinos and tourists — regulations differ for each category.
Lim said it is hard to say when airlines can recover 50 percent of their capacities when Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand are now at 40 to 70 percent of their pre-COVID levels.
“If we adopt what these countries have done, maybe we could recover 40 percent,” Lim added, stressing the creation of travel bubbles from air to ground such as what has been done in Boracay is a step towards that direction. (I. Isip)