CEBU Pacific, operated by Cebu Air, Inc., said it is keeping its fares cheaper this year than they were in 2019, or before the pandemic, in an effort to sustain its recovery by increasing passenger volume and flight frequencies.

The Civil Aeronautics Board approved the budget carrier’s application for a higher fuel surcharge at Level 11 in July, up from Level 7 in June, according to airline representatives.

Cebu Pacific domestic fares were 26% cheaper in the second quarter of 2022 than they were in the same period in 2019, or prior to the pandemic, Candice A. Iyog, vice-president for marketing and customer experience, told reporters on Wednesday.

In comparison to the same month in 2019, she said, July domestic fares are down by 9%.

Asked how the airline manages to keep its fares lower despite the higher fuel surcharge, Cebu Pacific Chief Financial Officer Mark V. Cezar said they absorb some of the costs. “We have to subsidize.”

Under Level 11, the fuel surcharge per passenger ranges from P335 to P1,038 for domestic flights and from P1,172.07 to P8,714.84 for international flights.

“We remain committed to offering the lowest fares across our network, and we are encouraged by past seat sale success rates so we will continue to stimulate travel through our promo fares,” Cebu Pacific Chief Commercial Officer Xander Lao said.

The airline fully restored its pre-pandemic domestic capacity in April, its officials said. “The airline surpassed its December 2019 level for domestic capacity, as it (registered) 109% restoration in (the first week of) July 2022.”

Mr. Lao said this development has also boosted Cebu Pacific’s cargo service.

The budget carrier currently operates an average of 340 flights a day, covering 34 domestic and 18 international destinations. This is equivalent to around 64,000 seats offered in a day, the airline said.

The airline also announced on Wednesday a “special 7.7 sale” from July 7 to 11. One-way domestic flights are offered for as low as P188. Travel period is from Sept. 1, 2022, until Jan. 31, 2023.

Its international seat sale for the same travel period starts at P499 one-way. Destinations include South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, and Bangkok. — Arjay L. Balinbin