While the Covid-19 pandemic has posed the greatest challenge to the world’s airlines, Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) has taken steps to beef up its balance sheet and restore the airline back to post-pandemic health.
In March, the airline signed a 16 billion pesos (US$330.6 million) 10-year term loan facility with a syndicate of Philippine domestic banks. The money will be used to strengthen CEB’s balance sheet, and provide the airline with the “long runway” it needs for gradual recovery, its vice president for marketing & customer experience, Candice Iyog, told TTG Asia.
On top of this, CEB is also in the midst of “executing a business transformation plan, that involves acceleration of various digital solutions” to ensure the airline can emerge from Covid-19 in a stronger position, shared lyog.
Plans include rightsizing the network to capitalise on domestic-driven recovery, as well as optimising its fleet through the use of NEO aircraft which have better fuel efficiency and range capability. The airline’s cargo operations also continue to grow, and existing aircraft will be utilised to respond to the increased demand.
When asked if fares will rise once travel returns, owing to capacity limits to allow for social distancing, lyog said: “Our low fares are here to stay. We still hold seat sales regularly during this period, as we believe leisure trips are something we can all look forward to once the situation improves.”
The airline has also permanently removed change fees, giving passengers the “much-needed flexibility” during this time due to the “fluidity of the situation”, added Iyog. Aside from unlimited rebookings, CEB also offers a travel fund option with a two-year validity, should passengers prefer to have a further date out.
In January, CEB joined a growing list of airlines worldwide to push out Covid-19 insurance for its passengers across all its flights. For 270 pesos, CEB Travelsure provides coverage for hospitalisation and medical expenses up to US$20,600 for passengers who test positive for Covid-19.
Additionally, Iyog pointed out that as Philippines’ largest carrier, CEB’s role is “critical in ensuring the recovery of the industry”.
The airline is working with the Department of Tourism to boost local tourism with the Juan Love campaign, which spotlights scenic spots, thrilling activities and native delicacies, alongside local businesses. As well, CEB is coordinating with the government to transport vaccines, provide passenger flights for stranded individuals, and offer humanitarian aid.
But Iyog, along with CEB’s president and CEO Lance Gokongwei, strongly believes that the Covid-19 vaccine passport is “an absolute necessity” to rebuild traveller confidence post-pandemic.
Iyog concluded: “The number one priority for governments around the world is to vaccinate as many of their population as possible, and work together to create a single vaccine passport, that is recognised in every country.”