Cebu Pacific to restore full international network by mid-2023

Cebu Pacific to restore full international network by mid-2023
Cebu Pacific's brand-new Airbus A33NEO powered by sustainable aviation fuel. Photo from Cebu Pacific.
  • Cebu Pacific is restoring its international network by the second half of next year to position itself for the expected reopening of China borders
  • Airline still has to recover to its full pre-pandemic capacity as China market remains closed due to Beijing’s tough zero-COVID stance
  • Cebu Pacific counts on resumption of all flights over the long term to return to profit

Cebu Pacific expects to restore its full international network by the second half of 2023 assuming China reopens to leisure travel by then.

Cebu Pacific chief strategy officer Alex Reyes said the Gokongwei-owned airline may reach its pre-pandemic capacity levels by H2 2023 assuming that China will start abandoning its zero-COVID policy during that period.

“We are expecting the full restoration of our international network in the latter part of next year,” Reyes was quoted by reports out of Singapore as saying.

Reyes was in Singapore on September 28 for the first Cebu Pacific passenger flight from the Lion City to Manila using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

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The airline has yet to recover fully to its pre-pandemic capacity as its China market remains closed as the government keeps its tough zero-COVID stance, Reyes said.

On the domestic market, Cebu Pacific has reinstated all its regional routes to support the recovery of Philippine tourism.

“We are not yet back to our pre-pandemic levels [system-wide], but in terms of domestic capacity, we are above our pre-pandemic levels. The big market that has yet to really reopen is China,” Reyes said.

“Currently, we only have approval to operate one flight per week from Manila to Guangzhou.”

The carrier counts on the resumption of all flights over the long term to be able to cut losses and return to profitability.

Cebu Pacific chief financial officer Mark Cezar said in July that the airline expects to end 2022 in the red due to soaring fuel prices, peso depreciation and rising interest rates.

Cezar expects domestic demand to balloon with the government keeping the Philippines under Alert Level 1 while international borders are reopening, with the exception of China.

For the first semester, Cebu Pacific’s parent Cebu Air Inc. cut its net loss by P4 billion to P9.5 billion from P13.79 billion a year ago. The airline reported revenue of P20.68 billion as it seized on a surge in passenger volume, cargo demand, and flight activities.

This year, Cebu Air has a P32.8 billion capital expenditure plan, mainly to add seven new aircraft to its fleet as air travel rebounds.