A CAL aircraft descends to land at the Piarco International Airport.

Caribbean Airlines has recorded a loss of over a billion dollars in the past year and a half.

According to CAL’s unaudited financial results for the first six months of this year the State-owned airline has recorded an operating loss of $326.6million (US$48m).

This loss comes on the heels of the operating loss of $738 million (US$109.2m) that CAL recorded last year.

In all CAL’s operating loss for the 18 month period was $1.06 billion.

CAL reported operating profits for 2018 and 2019.

“In a year when the airline and travel industry were pulverised by the COVID-19 pandemic, Caribbean Airlines’ unaudited financial results for the six months ended June 2021 reflected the depressed market conditions with an operating loss of $326.6 million (US$48m). The airline’s performance was consistent with the same period for 2020, when it reported an operating loss of $331m (US$48.7m),” a release from CAL stated yesterday.

CAL said total revenue generated for the six months ended June 2021 was $264.9m (US$39m).

This 54 per cent decline in revenue compared to 2020 was due to a 44.8 per cent drop in passenger numbers as a result of the pandemic, CAL stated.

In March last year, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced the closure of the T&T border to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the suspension of operations in T&T, CAL said it had seen its passenger numbers plummet, and flight numbers reduced to less than 10 per cent of normal operations.

“The Government of Trinidad and Tobago provided financial support to assist the airline with expenditure commitments,” CAL stated.

Among the financial assistance, the Government has recently provided to CAL was a $700 million subsidy last year and the taking over of loans that the airline was unable to service.

“To cushion the impact of the dramatic decrease in passenger traffic and consequent revenue collapse, Caribbean Airlines offered cargo charters using its passenger planes and operated repatriation and other special services on request from regional Governments. The airline also took the proactive decision to adjust its planned strategy in response to managing the impact of the pandemic,” CAL stated.

“Globally, 2020 was confirmed as the worst year in the history of aviation, recording the largest ever decline in air passenger numbers, with a stagnated outlook projected for 2021. At the depth of the crisis, 66 per cent of the world’s commercial air transport fleet was grounded and the industry losses worldwide have been tabulated at over US$370 billion,” it stated.

In June, CAL stated that in order to create a sustainable business model for 2021 major cost reductions in “all areas of the airline’s operations, specifically its human resource complement, its fleet and other assets, and its route network” were necessary.

“In terms of employees, the airline has determined that 25 per cent of its workforce or about 450 positions throughout its network is surplus to its current needs. The company will embark on consultation with the employees and other stakeholders, with respect to treating with this surplus labour situation,” it stated.

The T&T border was reopened on July 17.

On Friday, CAL announced that it had made significant progress on the consultation process for its proposed restructuring.

“The airline has adjusted its planned strategy, fleet size and route network to reflect the decreased size of its future market, specifically, reduced passenger numbers, which is estimated to remain below 2019 levels for the next two to three years,” it stated.

“During the past five weeks extensive discussions were held with employees and employee representatives in the various locations that Caribbean Airlines operates. The process was constructive and as a result the number of employees to be separated is now 280, significantly fewer than previously estimated.

In addition, 99 employees will remain on temporary layoff for an extended period,” it stated.

CAL said impacted employees were being informed directly, with a 45 day notice period thereafter.