Tourism key to airline industry's survival
Local airline industry losses likely to reach P25 billion due to Covid-19 pandemic
MANILA – The COVID-19 pandemic severely affected Cebu Pacific and the entire tourism industry.
Lance Y. Gokongwei, chairman and key officer of Gokongwei companies, said the pandemic has brought the airline sector under severe stress.
“This year, we (the entire local airline industry) will lose almost P25 billion, but I think that’s part of doing business,” he said in a nationwide televised press briefing hosted by Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque at the Presidential Palace.
He underscored the need to operate the airline “in a very safe and secure manner for both the passengers and employees.”
“People have to gain confidence in fling and that’s the only way our business will recover. So, we have to work with the government and the local government units in that respect,” he explained.
With one of the strictest lockdowns in the country’s history from mid-March to May 31 this year, Gokongwei said “even during the worst part of the crisis”, we flew even without passengers as we operated cargo flights and served overseas Filipino workers scheduled for repatriation.
“Today the economy is slowing opening up, we now have a requirement, but we still have to respect each local government unit’s own guidelines,” he added. He explained they are optimistic they can work with each local government unit to assure everyone that every passenger they bring to their areas are safe and secure and have successfully passed the tests.
“I think we’re beginning to see an opening up of domestic travel in the Philippines as it has already been opened up in our other neighbors such as Viet Nam, Thailand, etcetera,” he added.
Mr. Gokongwei said he recognizes tourism as a vital part of the economy “and a lot of our countrymen depend on tourism. He said the most difficult challenge for them is to assure the local government units, different government agencies that tourism is safe, secure and does not promote COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Mr. Roberto Co Lim, Executive Director of the Air Carriers Association of the Philippines, said the balance between safety and opening of the economy is through risk management based on the information known about the invisible enemy called COVID19.
“It will be strict if we adopt the clinical approach,” Mr. Lim said in a short reaction sent to this writer. (Melo M. Acuna)
Cebu Pacific and Gokongwei Group of Companies Chair Lance Gokongwei (left) answers questions about the COVID-19 impact on the airline industry. (Screen grab from Virtual Midday Briefing of Secretary Harry Roque.