Cebu Pacific (CEB), the Philippines’ leading carrier, is gradually rebuilding its international flight network with the restart of flights between Manila and key Asian destinations in August. This is on top of its once-a-week flights between Manila and Dubai which re-started in mid-July.
Beginning today (August 1, 2020) CEB will be flying twice weekly from Tokyo (Narita) to Manila (Wednesday and Saturday). On August 6, CEB will be flying two times weekly (Thursday and Saturday) between Manila and Singapore; and every Thursday from Seoul (Incheon) to Manila.
Twice weekly flights (Wednesday and Friday) between Taipei and Manila are scheduled to begin on August 7. One-way flights to Manila from Osaka (Kansai) are also scheduled to begin on August 7.
“We are taking a conservative and agile approach to rebuilding our international network. While demand remains soft, there is latent demand for travel, particularly from stranded individuals and those who are eager to come home to visit their families,” said Candice Iyog, Vice President for Marketing and Customer Experience of Cebu Pacific.
Travel regulations issued by the governments of the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan will be implemented as necessary. These include a requirement to secure a negative RT-PCR test prior to departure, mandatory COVID screening or tests and a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival.
“We have taken extra precautions and assure travelers that preventive measures are in place so we can start rebuilding the trust and confidence in air travel,” Iyog added.
CEB has intensified preventive measures across its operations, in accordance with global safety standards. Aligned with the rest of the aviation industry, travelers can expect layers of bio-security measures that begin at the point of checking-in for a flight online. Contactless flight procedures are implemented using scanners and physical distancing, to minimize physical contact of passengers among each other and with personnel.
Earlier, CEB said cannot survive with only 10 percent of its operating capacity.
In order to be sustainable for the longer term, CEB has to operate at 50 percent capacity, Candice Iyog, Vice President for Marketing and Distribution, stressed.
Before today’s resumption of some of its international flights CEB was rotating about half of its fleet of 76 planes to serve 40 to 50 flights daily.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, CEB was putting out as many as 420 flights in one day.
Already, CEB has sent nine of its planes for indefinite safekeeping at the Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage in Alice Springs, Australia to cut costs.
The planes in storage include seven Airbus A321CEOs and two A330s.
“The desert is the best place to store aircraft,” she noted by way of explaining the choice of Alice Springs. “They have to be in a dry place to minimize damage.”
CEB plans to put more of its aircraft on indefinite storage, considering the volatility in market demand and travel restrictions.
“We do not know how long this will be drawn out,” the VP conceded.
“We used to base our forecasts on historical load factors depending on the season. Now, everything’s out of the window.”
“We are still finding our feet in terms of judging where to base the demand,” she pointed out.
Before the pandemic, CEB was mounting 400 to 450 flights per day. Now, they are down to 40 to 50.
And they usually fly half-empty. Their load factor now ranges between 50 to 60 per cent, depending on the route.
“The ball hasn’t settled,” she admitted. “We do a lot of trials. The schedules are fluid.” In pre-pandemic times, their schedule was fixed 12 months in advance. Operating in the pandemic changed that to 2 months and as short as 2 weeks.