BUDGET carrier Cebu Pacific announced on Tuesday that it remains “cautiously optimistic” about the prospects for 2022 despite the threat of the Omicron coronavirus variant, saying it expects to operate 84% of its pre-pandemic domestic capacity.
The airline, which currently operates above 60% of its pre-pandemic domestic network and capacity, anticipates meeting increased travel demand in the coming year with the addition of six new aircraft to its fleet.
“We are forecasting that for… 2022, we would probably be at about 84% of our outputs in 2019, as far as the domestic network is concerned,” Cebu Pacific Head of Strategy Alex B. Reyes said at a virtual briefing.
“One of the drivers for this optimism is really the national vaccination campaign,” he added.
Aviation think tank Center for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) said the emergence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused many countries in the Asia-Pacific region to adjust their border settings.
“If they go further down this path in coming weeks, it could derail promising signs of recovery in the airline and travel industries,” CAPA said in its analysis released on Dec. 4.
Mr. Reyes expects that there will be a “slower recovery on the international side.”
“We think that for the full year, we will only be at about 39% of our seats restored compared to 2019,” he noted.
In 2020, the Philippines received 1.32 million foreign visitors, down from 8.26 million in 2019, with Japan, South Korea, and China being the country’s top tourism markets.
Cebu Pacific has increased flights to key domestic destinations such as Boracay, Bohol, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, and General Santos in anticipation of increased travel demand as a result of the easing of restrictions.
“For international destinations, Cebu Pacific will also resume its operations to Fukuoka every Tuesday starting today, Dec. 7; to Bangkok every Thursday and Saturday, starting Dec. 11; and to Taiwan every Wednesday, starting Dec. 15,” it said.
The airline received two A321neos, an A330, and an A320 this year. “Another A330neo, along with the ATR 72-600, are expected to arrive,” Mr. Reyes said.
“At this point, we want to emphasize that while times have been extremely challenging, we have to continue our work to transform our fleet. We want to position our airline for the greener future,” he added. — Arjay L. Balinbin