Cebu Pacific to resume Manila-Beijing flights by October
Budget carrier Cebu Pacific is ramping up flights to China amid the anticipated increase in air travel demand to one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia.
Alex Reyes, chief strategy officer of the Gokongwei-led airline, told reporters last week that the low-cost carrier would be restarting Manila-Beijing flights by October.
This will be Cebu Pacific’s fifth destination in China. In January, it resumed flights to Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Xiamen.
Competitors Philippine Airlines and Air Asia Philippines have also reopened their China networks to take advantage of the travel resurgence.
Cebu Pacific CEO Michael Sucz noted demand for traveling in and out of China has yet to return to prepandemic levels.
“We don’t have the level of frequencies back into the China market yet. There is just no demand there yet,” he said. By comparison, other Asian destinations like Japan and Thailand were showing better bookings, he noted.
“It is not an even spread when you look at all the international markets. Some recovered more quickly, others are taking a little bit more time,” Szucs explained.
Still, the CEO is optimistic for the China market. “When the demand grows, which at some point it will, I think the Chinese market will return to the level that it was, but it is another six to 12 months,” he said.
China was one of the country’s top sources of international tourist arrivals until the pandemic hit. With borders now open, the Philippines is expected to benefit from potential tourism spending.
Last week, Cebu Pacific took delivery of its first A320neo (new engine option) unit assembled by Airbus Tianjin. The company, which has faced criticisms for delayed and cancelled flights, said it would use the new plane to augment some of the units that they were forced to park due to spare parts shortage and other maintenance woes.