Budget carrier Cebu Pacific (CEB) has remained “cautiously optimistic” on travel demand due to continuing worries on the prolonged pandemic.
But despite the disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 since last year, Candice Iyog, CEB vice-president for marketing said on Thursday, Sept. 23, that the airline has no plans to reduce its fleet of 73 planes or its crew.
To date, CEB operates just half of its fleet and is only at 26 percent of its pre-pandemic flight capacity, averaging mid to low 40 percent load factor.
“It is very far from our 85 percent load factor before the pandemic,” Iyog said. However, “We expect to be flying 38 percent of our pre-COVID capacity in October.”
At the end of this month, CEB will resume its daily flights to Dubai. For Japan, Cebu Pacific will fly twice weekly to Nagoya starting Oct. 2, and Osaka on Oct. 4; and resume Fukuoka on Nov. 5. Cebu Pacific will restart its flights to Kuala Lumpur on Oct. 4.
Next month, the airline will also increase its flights to Siargao, Boracay, and Bohol, pushing for domestic travel recovery as quarantine restrictions ease.
Moreover, CEB will expand its flights to Siargao from five times to six times weekly; raise its frequencies to Boracay from four to five times daily; and bump up flights to Bohol from nine to 10 times weekly.
“We believe reopening domestic travel and promoting responsible travel is critical to rebuilding the trust and travel confidence in the industry,” Iyog said.
As for increasing CEB’s flight capacity, she said “we can ramp up as soon as demand cones because we have the crew and the aircraft.”
And while the airline believes it has “the right size fleet”, it has ongoing discussions with Airbus, the details of which Iyog cannot disclose.
Seven of CEB’s planes are parked in Alice Springs, Australia. “We plan to bring them back to serve.”
After all is said and done, restrictions, arrival caps and multiple travel requirements still stymie demand, the CEB official said.
The 2,000 international arrivals cap remains, hindering the return of stranded overseas Filipinos. “Ideally, there should be no cap.”
The airlines are still in discussion with the government about reducing the number of quarantine days for international passengers.