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Airlines at NAIA try to avert bankruptcy
A source who requested anonymity said some carriers are already at the stage where cash reserves are depleted quickly as their planes either continue to be grounded or are flying more than half empty.
STAR/ File

Airlines at NAIA try to avert bankruptcy

Rudy Santos (The Philippine Star) - February 1, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Most airlines operating at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) will go bankrupt due to the COVID-19 pandemic unless the government and the industry make some coordinated steps to avert it, a report from the aviation industry revealed.

It noted that many airlines have been driven into technical bankruptcy or have substantially breached debt covenants.

A source who requested anonymity said some carriers are already at the stage where cash reserves are depleted quickly as their planes either continue to be grounded or are flying more than half empty.

Before the pandemic, for instance, Philippine Airlines (PAL) flew around 290 to 300 flights per day including those of their hubs at the Clark and Cebu-Mactan international airports.

Now, the company flies only 90 flights per day and carrying only 40 to 60 passengers in an aircraft that could load up to 300 and 400 passengers, respectively.

The source noted that from out of the income, about 40 percent is allocated for salaries of employees and another part is set aside for aircraft maintenance.

More than half of the fleet, the source added, are grounded either due to travel restrictions or because of the lack of interest among travelers.

Many would-be passengers are also discouraged from flying because of tedious requirements or are simply worried of being infected with COVID-19 and its new variants.

The source lamented that, in the case of PAL, so much money is spent on maintaining the aircraft on ground just to keep it operational.

These planes must be flown on a touch-and-go basis to keep them in good condition or else the engine and other parts will get stuck up.

Another aviation industry source at the NAIA said some airlines might be forced to return part of their fleet to lessors because they can no longer afford the lease without the needed flights.

The airline industry is among the biggest casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic around the globe.

Many local airline operators are hoping and praying that the pandemic will come to an end to enable them to recover and rehire terminated employees.

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