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AMID INCREASE IN FUEL SURCHARGES

Cebu Pacific on rehiring mode as travel appetite returns

/ 05:12 AM June 23, 2022
A Cebu Pacific plane in flight. STORY: Cebu Pacific on rehiring mode as travel appetite returns

Photo from Cebu Pacific

MANILA, Philippines — Budget carrier Cebu Pacific is eyeing to increase its workforce to 4,000 by early next year, bringing the headcount back to the period before the pandemic forced it to lay off workers and ground thousands of flights.

Lance Gokongwei, Cebu Air Inc. president and CEO, said they would prioritize rehiring those who were let go in the early part of the pandemic. These include pilots, cabin crew, and customer service staff.

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Cebu Air is the operator of the budget carrier.

“We’re calling a lot of our people back,” Gokongwei said on the sidelines of a media briefing on Wednesday. “We made a commitment to our people we would prioritize them when business came back and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

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He did not say how many were laid off in the last two years. In 2020, the Inquirer reported that Cebu Pacific was going to terminate the services of around 800 of its workers in August that year, on top of some 200 tenured workers who agreed to early retirement.

According to Cebu Air’s recent financial report, the group had 3,046 permanent employees by the end of last year. The same report said the number would grow to 3,678 employees by the end of 2022.

“By early next year, we’ll be back to where we were in 2019 in terms of head count. In the airline, [that’s] around 4,000,” Gokongwei said, as economies here and abroad reopen in an effort to live with COVID-19.

While still trying to be accessible to the public, the company recently raised fuel surcharges as approved by the Civil Aeronautics Board to reflect higher aviation fuel costs. Airlines are now collecting fuel surcharges of P201 to P769 for local flights and P1,035 to P9,892 for international flights per passenger.

Seat sales

“We do have to increase fares to reflect the increase in cost because if not, we’re not sustainable. But I have to say, at this point, we’re trying to mitigate this as much as possible,” he said.

So-called revenge travel has been fueling sales in recent months with airlines trying to lure travelers back by keeping the base fare low via seat sales. The passenger will also have to pay airport fees and other ancillary costs.

“We’re still getting people to go back to the habit of planning ahead for their vacation … Customers used to plan six months to one year ahead,” Gokongwei said.

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TAGS: Cebu Pacific, Employment, Lance Gokongwei
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