BUDGET CARRIER Cebu Pacific is planning to defer the resumption of its Manila-Beijing flights to October as the company weighs the current market demand, its president said.
“It looks like it’s going to be [October] 2024 and again, it is because China’s been so soft. Until we see a rebound in terms of our forward bookings, I think we have to take a deliberate approach on China,” Alexander G. Lao, Cebu Pacific president and chief commercial officer, told reporters in a media gathering last week.
Cebu Pacific’s Manila-Beijing route was initially set to resume in 2023 but was then deferred to early 2024.
The budget carrier is working to increase its international source market by intensifying its frequencies in other existing networks, Mr. Lao said.
“International though our tourism numbers are still far behind and one of the key reasons is China, I think it was our second largest source market and today it’s not even within out top five or six,” he said, adding that the potential contributions of China’s market was not as large as its share pre-pandemic level.
Last year, Cebu Pacific launched its Manila-Da Nang flight, which operates three times a week.
“I think Da Nang is probably the most recent route we’ve opened. We’re looking at maybe one to two routes to come back. Our strategy is to try to bring back our international capacity to pre-COVID level which we should see this year,” he said.
The company is planning to bring its wide-body aircraft to routes where there is a strong demand, he added.
“Whether it is Japan, Thailand, or Hong Kong. So not a lot of new routes this year, but we will try to open routes selectively, whether through more frequencies or higher capacity,” he said.
The company is expecting to complete its aircraft purchase by the first half of the year, allowing it to increase its network capacity. — Ashley Erika O. Jose