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80-year-old Philippine Airlines to stay aloft, COO says

FLAG carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL), which celebrated its 80th anniversary yesterday, remains optimistic about its recovery from the pandemic crisis.

“Our message to our country and the world: Buhay pa tayo. ‘Andito pa tayo. At hindi tayo aalis (PAL is alive, we’re still here, and we’re here to stay,” PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Gilbert Gabriel F. Santa Maria said in his anniversary message on Monday.

“This great lady — Philippine Airlines — will stay aloft while she is in our care,” he added.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the aviation industry. Aviation think tank Center for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) has said airline revenues are expected to be “close to catastrophic” in the first half of the year.

The flag carrier, operated by PAL Holdings, Inc., continues to focus on repatriation and cargo transport efforts as travel demand remains low.

Local airlines have been pushing for the relaxation of travel restrictions to gradually restore air travel demand amid the public health crisis.

CAPA expects business travel to be at “as much as 50% of previous levels” in the second half of 2021.

PAL noted it had been rebuilding its network of commercial flights on key international and domestic routes.

“The flag carrier has restored regular commercial flights to the United States., Canada, Japan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and several Asian countries as well as most of its domestic trunk and inter-island routes,” it said.

It reported to have carried home more than 73% of the 420,000 displaced overseas Filipinos since March last year.

“Within the same period, tens of thousands of foreign nationals flew back to their home countries via PAL. At present, the airline is airlifting shipments of anti-COVID vaccines to various areas in Mindanao, Luzon and the Visayas,” the flag carrier added.

PAL’s total revenues for the first nine months of 2020 stood at P45.29 billion, down 61.6% from the previous year’s P117.85 billion.

Its net loss to parent equity holders hit P28.85 billion, or more than three times the P8.49 billion recorded in 2019.

Passenger revenues for the three quarters dropped 65.4% to P35.56 billion. Cargo revenues declined 12.2% to P6.05 billion. Ancillary revenues decreased 55.5% to P3.68 billion, while its other business segments generated P6.93 million, 76.9% lower than the previous year’s figure. — Arjay L. Balinbin

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