Caribbean Airlines Hit By US$109M Operating Loss

(CMC) – Caribbean Airlines said Tuesday that the global COVID-19 pandemic had negatively impacted its earnings in 2020, leaving it with a more than US$109 million operating loss.

The airline announced its unaudited financial results for the year to the end of December 2020, which showed an operating loss (Earnings Before Interest &Taxes – EBIT) of TT$738 million (US$109.2 million) on revenue of TT$802 million (US$118.6 million).

“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 10 months and our financial results for last year fully reflect this new reality,” said Garvin Medera, CEO of Caribbean Airlines.

The 2020 results were 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.

Despite the pandemic and reduced flying, Medera said, Caribbean Airlines 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.

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 Trinidad and Tobago), in comparison to 2019 when the airline carried 2 595 526 people.

“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,” Caribbean Airlines chairman S. Ronnie Mohamme said.

He added, however, that the board of directors and management remain committed to the sustainability of Caribbean Airlines.