Cebu Pacific (CEB) lost P22.2 billion last year as the  COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the airline sector.

The airline carried just five million passengers in 2020, 78% lower than 2019 in a total of 41,804 flights, 71% down in the comparative period.

Before the pandemic, CEB flew about 400 flights a day. 

When the country was placed in Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in March 19, 2020, CEB’s commercial operations were grounded. 

Commercial operations resumed on June, 3 albeit gradually, with most of the Philippines still in General Community Quarantine (GCQ). 

This resulted in various requirements and processes from local government units, which continue to be a challenge not only for CEB and other airlines, but for the traveling public as well. 

In the third quarter of last year, the airline flew an average of 47 flights a day, increasing to 76 flights a day by December, about 20% of pre-Covid levels. 

Its growth was primarily domestic-driven and supplemented by cargo operations, which performed better than expected.

Overall, CEB hauled in P22.6 billion revenues for 2020, 73% lower than 2019. 

Cargo operations contributed P5.4 billion, or 24% of CEB’s total revenues in 2020, as cargo freighter and charter flights contributed to higher yield.  

Correspondingly, the airline’s total operating expenses went down  40% to P43.4 billion.

Fuel showed the steepest decline, as less flights were coupled with lower fuel cost. 

Other operating expenses likewise plunged as CEB continued its cost cutting, right-sizing its network, fleet, and manpower while improving operational efficiencies through digitalization. 

CEB closed the full year of 2020 with an operating loss of P20.77 billion and a negative EBITDAR of P932 million.

However, Cebu Pacific historically showed strong an ability to generate free cash flow. 

By end-2019, its net debt-to-equity ratio was 1.26x. 

With its fleet of 74 aircraft, CEB had total assets of P128.46 billion by end-2020 and its net debt-to-equity ratio was still at a strong 3.17x, enough to support the airline.

Source: Manila Bulletin (