State carrier Caribbean Airlines Ltd (CAL) has recorded an operating loss of $738 million (US$109.2 million) for year ended December, 2020.

The airline announced it unaudited financial results yesterday, attributing the loss to the impact of the global pandemic.

The operating figure was earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) on revenue of $802 million (US$118.6 million).

“This is in stark comparison to 2019, which saw a positive EBIT of $76 million (US$11.2m) on revenue of $3 billion (US$440 million) for the 12-month period,” CAL said.

The airline stated that operating expenses for 2020 were $1.54 billion (US$228 million), 47 per cent lower than 2019 due to fewer flights and strict cost controls.

Last October, CAL announced temporary furloughs and salary cuts for staff members and negotiated a US$65 million Government-guaranteed loan to keep operations on track.

CAL chief executive Garvin Medera said the first two months of 2020 continued the airline’s upward trajectory of the previous three years and the next phase of its 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,” he said.

Worst year for global travel

Medera noted: “Nonetheless, in spite of the pandemic, and reduced flying, we managed to add new destinations to our network and expanded our 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.”

This country’s borders have been closed since March 22, 2020.

CAL chairman Ronnie Mohammed noted that 2020 was the worst year on record for the global travel industry and specifically for aviation.

He said: “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...”

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