LOW-COST carrier Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) is anticipating a higher domestic travel demand in 2022 as travel gets easier and a subdued demand for international travel.
“We are forecasting that in the full year 2022, we will probably be about 84 percent of our output in 2019 as far as our domestic network is concerned. But it will be a slower recovery on the international side. We think that in the full year of 2022, we will only be at 39 percent of our seats restored compared to 2019. As we have seen in the recent months, the international border reopening will be much slower, hence, a more subdued recovery when it comes to the international network,” said Alex Reyes, chief strategy officer at CEB, during the virtual stakeholders event Tuesday, December 7, 2021.
Since the improvement in Covid-19 cases in the country after the Delta variant threat in August and the easing of domestic travel restrictions, CEB has seen an encouraging recovery rate from 27 percent in September to 60 percent in December.
“For December alone, we have scheduled flights that will bring us to 60 percent of the capacity that we had in place prior to the pandemic,” said Reyes. “While we aren’t fully recovered when it comes to our network, we have seen in recent weeks a dramatic increase compared to where we were throughout most of 2021.”
Destinations like Boracay, Cagayan de Oro and Tacloban exhibited encouraging capacity that is even higher than the 2019 levels.
CEB currently offers the most flights and routes in the Philippines with a market share at 53.7 percent as of November 2021.
The increasing travel demand is supported by CEB’s resumption of multiple daily frequencies from Manila to Boracay (up to 11x daily), Cebu (up to 10x daily), Cagayan de Oro (7x daily) and Davao (5x daily).
“The policy environment today is more conducive to travel,” said Reyes, comparing it from the past months when local government units had varying travel requirements on top of the mandatory RT-PCR, airport terminals then were empty and travel demand was low.
“Today, you can see the opening up. Terminal 3 is getting busier although it is far from being crammed,” he said. “All of these developments, the easing of travel restrictions, the ongoing rollout of the vaccination campaign and the drop in total nationwide Covid-19 cases mean, we are seeing a very healthy restoration of travel demand.”
Meanwhile, CEB said it is receiving a total of six aircraft in 2021: two A321neo (new engine option), one A320neo, two A330neo, and one ATR 72-600.
The airline received on November 28 its first A330neo which paves the way for it to become the greenest airline in Asia.
The airline’s newest aircraft features 459 lightweight Recaro seats which allow more travelers to be carried in a single flight, resulting in lowest carbon footprint per passenger, making CEB the greenest airline in Asia. With the A330neo’s latest technologies, this eco-plane consumes 25 percent less fuel than previous generation aircraft and is eco-efficient--able to consume as little as 1.4 liters per seat per 100 kilometers.
CEB will have an all new neo fleet by 2027.
With the new Covid-19 omicron variant threat clouding the outlook, CEB remains cautiously optimistic moving forward.
Reyes said while they bank on revenge travel to spark tourism recovery, health protocols must be observed and the vaccination rollout should be continued until the country achieves the 70 percent target inoculation of its population.
“We continue to rebuild our domestic and international network to support tourism growth in 2022 while continuing to promote safe and responsible travel. This is the only way to regain trust and confidence in travel, paving the way towards economic recovery,” said Candice Iyog, vice president for marketing and customer experience at Cebu Pacific.