Caribbean Airlines has announced that it lost $738 million for the financial year 2020.
In its unaudited financial results to the end of December 2020, CAL said the impact of the global pandemic resulted in an operating loss (earnings before interest and taxes EBIT) of TT$738 million (US$109.2 million) on revenue of TT$802 million (US$118.6 million).
The airline noted this is in stark comparison to 2019, which saw a positive EBIT of TT$76 million (US$11.2 million) on revenue of TT$3 billion (US$440 million) for the 12-month period.
Operating expenses for 2020 were TT$1.54 billion (US$228 million), 47 per cent lower than 2019 due to fewer flights and strict cost controls.
Garvin Medera, CEO of Caribbean Airlines, said, “The first two months of 2020 continued our upward trajectory of the previous three years and the next phase of our strategic plan was commencing strongly. However, COVID-19 has taken a sledgehammer to international travel and tourism for the past ten months and our financial results for last year fully reflect this new reality.”
Medera added that nonetheless, in spite of the pandemic, and reduced flying, the airline managed to add new destinations to its network and expanded its cargo offerings to include charter services.
“We also provided support through repatriation flights for a number of Caribbean nations and resumed operations in some destinations outside of Trinidad and Tobago where borders are open,” he said.
CAL also noted that at times during 2020 passenger flights were 90 per cent lower than the same period for the previous year as a result of international border closures from March 2020 onwards.
Passenger numbers for 2020 fell substantially by 71 per cent to a mere 741,676 (371,549 of which travelled on the domestic air bridge between T&T), in comparison to 2019 when the airline carried 2,595,526 people.
Ronnie Mohammed, Caribbean Airlines chairman, noted that 2020 was the worst year on record for the global travel industry and specifically for aviation.
“Regrettably, Caribbean Airlines was hit hard. From a promising period of progress and profitability, we were severely negatively impacted. However, the board of directors and management remain committed to the sustainability of Caribbean Airlines in 2020 and beyond,” Mohammed said.