VARYING travel restrictions by local government units (LGUS) are posing a great challenge to the sustainability of airline operations in the country amid the pandemic.
Candice Iyog, Cebu Pacific vice president for marketing and customer experience, said besides weak demand, shifting LGU rules are putting pressure on the airline’s operations as it tries to rebuild its network.
She said while they understand every LGU’s concern in accepting locally stranded individuals, the varying regulations are not helping them to come up with stable flight schedules.
“Without standardization it will be difficult for us to plan our schedules and stabilize them,” she said in an online press conference Friday, July 24.
Cebu Pacific is currently serving 23 local destinations and one international destination since it resumed flying on June 3. According to Iyog, this is barely a third of its original network which was serving 63 destinations pre-pandemic.
The airline’s Manila to Cebu route, which had multiple flight frequencies in a day, for instance, was reduced to one flight per day.
“There are still so many uncertainties. We plan to grow the network but there are so many dependencies to be able to do that,” she said, adding that the airline has created an agile squad that meets twice a week to check on the flight schedules and monitor the guidelines and restrictions of the destination.
The Covid-19 pandemic has placed the aviation and tourism industries on a standstill. It limited the air travel movements, resulting in the loss of jobs and empty airports.
According to Iyog, the impact was felt by all players in the aviation sector.
Total passengers served by the country’s largest airlines fell by 94 percent to 800,000 in the second quarter of 2020, from 13.5 million passengers in the same period in 2019.
Cebu Pacific, which flew 22.5 million passengers in 2019, initially targeted 24 million passengers to carry this year.
“Clearly, it’s not going to happen,” she said.
But amid the gloomy and uncertain outlook in travel and tourism, Cebu Pacific is keen on helping the country restore the trust and confidence of travelers for tourism to slowly recover.
Iyog said neighboring countries like Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam have gradually opened their domestic air travel.
At present, only essential travels are allowed by the government. (KOC)