Airlines prepare for takeoff as world aviation fights bankruptcy

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 01 2020 08:59 AM | Updated as of Jun 01 2020 09:01 AM

Cebu Pacific jets are parked on the airport tarmac in Manila in this photo taken on March 20, 2020. The Philippines eased pandemic restrictions on June 1, 2020, allowing commercial air travel for the first time in 2 months. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA -- The Philippines' airlines on Monday waited for a go signal from government to return to the skies after President Rodrigo Duterte eased one of the world's longest coronavirus lockdowns and as their global peers battled bankruptcy.

The country's largest airline, Cebu Pacific said it would resume flights as early as Tuesday. AirAsia Philippines said it would restart the following day and Philippine Airlines moved its return to June 8 from June 1.

All carriers have put in place strict health checks and protective suits for cabin crew and ground staff.

"This is a developing situation. We may reduce or add flights depending on passenger demand, quarantine conditions and travel restrictions," Cebu Pacific said.

The 3 airlines tallied $5 billion (P250 billion) in losses as of May, Air Carriers Association of the Philippines Vice Chairman Roberto Lim told a Senate hearing.

Gokongwei-led Cebu Pacific tallied a net loss of P1.18 billion in the quarter ended March, counting just 2 weeks of the lockdown that stretched nearly 80 days.

Philippine Airlines is losing $300 million in revenue per month, compounded by losses from earlier this year. It incurred additional losses in 2019 due to a change in accounting rules, it said.

The flag carrier has used up half of the $600-million capital infusion from February, COO Gilbert Santa Maria said a week before Metro Manila shifted to a general community quarantine.

While the flag carrier is "not in immediate danger of bankruptcy," the world's airlines are "on the brink of bankruptcy," he said.

Local carriers are eyeing travel between GCQ areas, which allow commercial flights. International flights will depend on travel restrictions in destination countries.

In Southeast Asia, Singapore Airlines reported its first annual loss while Thai Airways filed for restructuring before a bankruptcy court.

The world's second oldest airline, Colombia's Avianca, and Latin America's largest, LATAM, also filed for bankruptcy.