Cebu Pacific ‘cautiously optimistic’ on 2022 recovery

BUDGET carrier Cebu Pacific, operated by Cebu Air, Inc., is sticking to its forecast of returning to pre-pandemic levels next year, saying it is “cautiously optimistic” given the current pace of vaccine rollout in the country.

“To be honest, initially, when it started rolling out and we were monitoring the inoculation rate, we were pleasantly surprised with the 130,000 a day. Now, with the A4 (priority) and private vaccinations, we’re cautiously optimistic,” Candice A. Iyog, Cebu Pacific vice-president for marketing and customer service, said at an online briefing on Thursday.

“We’d like to stick to what we’ve said before, the 2022, but again so many things can still happen,” she added.

Cebu Pacific currently operates flights to 32 domestic destinations.

To recall, the number of flights Cebu Pacific had in 2020 was 71% lower at 41,804. The number of passengers it carried last year also dropped 78% to five million.

Ms. Iyog said flights from Manila to Boracay will be five times daily starting June 21, while flights to Bohol will also operate daily.

As of June, it operates flights to Dubai, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, and Singapore.

“When demand comes back, there will be higher expectation from us to be more digital and to provide more contactless options for our passengers because we understand that ‘contactless’ is somehow part of safety,” Ms. Iyog noted.

“Yesterday (June 16), we successfully launched our new website and our iOS and Android booking channels,” she added.

The airline has partnered with GCash, GrabPay, and PayMaya for cashless payment options for new bookings.

The budget carrier will be implementing starting July this year a new policy for passengers who want to make voluntary changes to their flights.

“Starting July 1, the travel fund option for voluntary flight changes will only be available for passengers who pre-purchased the CEB Flexi add-on during initial booking as this new and improved product allows passengers to cancel their flights for free, up to two hours before departure, and store the value of the booking in a Travel Fund for as low as P499,” Cebu Pacific said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The amount in this virtual wallet is valid for two years and may be used to book new flights or purchase other add-ons such as seat selection, additional baggage allowance, or travel insurance,” it added.

As for passengers who want to change their bookings voluntarily without purchasing CEB Flexi, the budget carrier said: “They can make use of the Unlimited Rebooking option of CEB and rebook as many times as they want up to two hours before their scheduled time of departure.”

The low-cost carrier said it permanently removed change fees since March.

Cebu Air shares closed 1.66% lower at P53.25 apiece on Thursday. — Arjay L. Balinbin