CEB expects full recovery in 2023

After the pandemic wrought havoc in the global travel industry for the past three years, Cebu Pacific (CEB) is restoring 100 percent of its pre-COVID network and capacity by March and expects full recovery this 2023.

"We're back," Candice Iyog, CEB Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer announced Wednesday, January 25, in a press briefing held in Makati.

Last year, the budget carrier focused on rebuilding its domestic market, according to CEB President and CEO Xander Lao.

By December, 2022 Ceb has restored 92 percent of its pre-covid capacity. The recovery was mostly from the domestic market.

"We cautiously built our network and flew close to 15 million passengers compared to 13 million in 2021," according to Iyog.

While no catastrophe could be compared to the pandemic, which grounded all of CEB's aircraft and forced the carrier to forego 40 percent of its workforce, "We made the right choices," Lao pointed out.

"We provided refunds to our customers. We continued to take deliveries of aircraft. We were one of the few airlines in the world which didn't undergo restructuring," he explained.

Making a return, especially in the international market, was a juggling act, determined by the regulations of each country.

"If we come back too early, we burn cash," Iyog pointed out. But if they wait too long, it might be too late and they'll lose their edge in that market.

"In the past three years, we've been trying to find the perfect balance of both."

This is the case with China, CEB's second biggest international market after Korea.

"It will take us a couple of years to come back to the Chinese market," Lao confirmed. "But we're bullish on tourism prospects this year."

Already, CEB is increasing its flight frequencies to a number of international destinations.

This month, it is increasing its flights from Manila – Guangzhou - Manila from 1x weekly to 2x weekly.

By March, it will increase its Manila – Bangkok – Manila flights from 14x weekly to 18x weekly by March; Manila – Brunei – Manila from 2x weekly to 4x weekly by March; Manila – Sydney – Manila, from 4x weekly to 5x weekly.

The airline will also fully restore its flights to all its 25 international destinations in 14 countries by March 2023.

CEB will fly Manila – Melbourne – Manila, 3x weekly by March 26; Manila – Macau – Manila, 3x weekly by March.

This month, the airline started Manila – Shanghai – Manila flights, 1x weekly on January 19. It will fly Manila – Shenzhen – Manila, 1x weekly by January 29 and Manila – Xiamen – Manila, 1x weekly by February.

To address passenger demand, CEB -- one of the few airlines in the world to accept aircraft deliveries during the pandemic - will receive 10 brand new planes in 2023: three A320neo, three A321neo, and four A330neo.