February 3, 2020 / 8:13 AM / a month ago

Philippines' Cebu Air fears profit hit of up to $78 million from virus outbreak

FILE PHOTO: A security guard stands near Cebu Pacific passenger jets at the tarmac of Terminal 3 at the Ninoy Aquino International aiport in Pasay city, Metro Manila Philippines April 1, 2016. REUTERS/Erik De Castro/File Photo

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines’ largest budget carrier expects travel curbs prompted by a virus outbreak that began in China could trim 3 billion to 4 billion pesos ($58.9 to 78.5 million) off this year’s earnings, the airline said on Monday.

The death toll from the coronavirus epidemic has risen to 361 in China, with more airlines cancelling flights to the country to rein in its spread.

Travel prospects for 2020 are weighed down by the virus, Cebu Air Inc (CEB.PS), which operates budget airline Cebu Pacific, said in a disclosure.

“If the current situation remains the same for the next six months, then Cebu Air estimates that it might experience a 3-4 billion pesos swing on profit,” it said.

Cebu Air had been expected to report full-year profit of 10.6 billion pesos for the year ending Dec. 2020, the average of seven analysts polled by Refinitiv showed.

The budget carrier has canceled all flights to the Chinese mainland until Mar. 29, while trips to the business hub of Hong Kong and the gambling hub of Macau have been suspended until the end of February.

Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Additional Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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