CEBU Pacific (CEB), the Philippines’ leading carrier, faced headwinds in January and February as COVID-19 cases surged again due to Omicron.
This led the government to revert the country to Alert level 3 and reimpose stricter travel regulations.
It also limited operation capacity due to crew resource limitations which resulted in several flight cancellations.
Starting March, however, the path toward recovery became clearer as vaccination rates increased, COVID-19 cases declined, alert levels de-escalated, and local government units (LGUs) simplified travel requirements.
Increased mobility encouraged people to go out and travel.
In the first quarter of 2022, CEB flew 16,521 flights, 128% higher than last year, while the passenger count likewise improved by 272% to 2.05 million.
Cargo operations sustained its growth, as cargo rose 36% to 34.2M kgs last year.
CEB recorded revenues of P6.71 billion in the first quarter, 148% higher than the same period last year.
This was driven by passenger operations which grew 256% to P3.16 billion from P887 million in the same period last year. Likewise, ancillary and cargo revenues increased 239% and 40% year-on-year, respectively.
Operating expenses grew 26% year-on-year, mainly due to higher fuel expenses resulting from increased jet fuel prices.
Nonetheless, the operating loss narrowed 22% to P5.34 billion in the first quarter from P6.82 billion in the same quarter last year.
CEB also incurred P2.52 billion in non-core losses, primarily due to forex translation of dollar-denominated loans and unrealized mark to market losses from the derivative value of its convertible bonds.
As a result, the company recorded a net loss of P7.61 billion, 4% higher than P7.30 billion in the first quarter of last year.
CEB generated net cash flows from operations of P1.55 billion. This was driven mainly by the increase in unearned transportation revenue due to higher bookings.
As at the end of March 2022, CEB’s cash and cash equivalents posted at P18.42 billion.
For the rest of 2022, CEB sees a “better” business outlook driven by domestic recovery and re-openings of international destinations.
However, it remains cautious of the risks of increasing jet fuel prices and interest rates and depreciation of the Philippine peso vs. the US dollar.
It will continue to invest in the modernization of its fleet and will remain committed to providing affordable and accessible air transport services for all. By Jun I. Legaspi