Cargo airlifted by Philippine domestic carriers in the first quarter of 2021 dropped 39.5% year-on-year, with the air travel industry still behind pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels
Of 13 domestic carriers, only Cebgo and Seair International reported an increase in volume during the first three months of the year
Cebu Pacific shipped the most cargo or 35% of the total volume
With the air travel industry still behind pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels, cargo handled by domestic carriers dropped 39.5% to 39.904 million kilograms in the first quarter of 2021 from 66.002 million kg in the same quarter in 2020, latest data from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) showed.
Of the 13 carriers on the CAB list, only two reported an increase in volume handled during the first three months of the year: Cebgo and Seair International.
Cebu Pacific once again topped the list of domestic carriers in terms of volume shipped, accounting for the biggest chunk or 35% of the total or 14.036 million kg. This figure is, however, 51.7% lower than the 29.087 million kg it airlifted in the first quarter of 2020.
In second place is Philippine Airlines (PAL), with a 23% share amounting to 9.23 million kg. The volume handled by the flag carrier represents a 21% drop from the 15.605 million kg from first quarter of last year.
PAL senior vice president and chief strategy and planning officer Dexter Lee earlier said the airline saw an opportunity to use its parked aircraft to help alleviate the “cargo crunch” happening due to the pandemic and to expand its cargo operations.
PAL sister airline PAL Express (PALEx) came in third, airlifting 21% or 8.489 million kg of the total, a decline of 46% from 15.605 million kg last year.
Cebu Pacific sister company Cebgo handled 112% more air cargo in the first quarter of 2021, allowing it to climb one rank higher from 2020 to fourth place with 3.214 million kg or 8% of the total. In the first quarter last year, Cebgo shipped 1.516 million kg.
Cebu Pacific early this year took delivery of its second ATR freighter to further strengthen its cargo operations in domestic airports with short runways. The freighters are operated by Cebgo.
Alex Reyes, Cebgo president and chief executive officer, earlier said they saw the pandemic as an opportunity to recalibrate their business and optimize operations to address needs of their customers.
In fifth place was AirAsia Philippines, with 2.029 million kg (5% of the total), a 71% dive from last year’s 6.924 million kg.
Pan Pacific Airlines, formerly Astro Air International Inc., airlifted 4% of the total or 1.749 million kg in the first quarter of 2021 and landed in sixth place. The carrier started handling cargoes only in the second quarter of 2020.
Ranked seventh was leisure airline Seair International with 876,424 kg, representing 2% of the total. The latest figure is a 31% jump from 668,343 kg in the first quarter of 2020.
Charter airline Island Aviation Corp. was in eighth place in Q1 2021 with a 0.4% share or 155,318 kg, lower by 33% than the 230,424 kg it handled in 2020.
Royal Air Charter Service, Inc., which started reporting cargoes handled this year, airlifted 0.2% or 80,722 kg of the total, placing it in ninth place.
Boutique airline AirSwift landed in 10th place, carrying 0.1% of the total or 43,691 kg, a 59% contraction from 107,375 kg recorded in 2020.
Leisure airline Magnum (Skyjet) Air and charter airline and seaplane operator AirJuan Aviation, Inc. did not report cargo volume for the first quarter of 2021. – Roumina Pablo