Cebu Pacific defers relaunch of Manila-Beijing flights to 2024
MANILA – Budget carrier Cebu Pacific is delaying the relaunch of its Manila-Beijing flights to next year as it awaits the resurgence of demand for air travel to one of the most popular Asian tourist destinations.
Alexander Lao, president and chief commercial officer of the Gokongwei-led airline, told the Inquirer last week they were still waiting for the right moment to restart the direct flights to Beijing, seeing the summer of next year as a potential relaunch date given the expected pickup in travel.
Initially, the low-cost airline planned to restart the flight this month. The Manila-Beijing flights were previously offered by Cebu Pacific but the operation was stopped during the pandemic when border restrictions were up.
With the planned relaunch, Beijing would be the fifth destination of the carrier 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 network following the easing of border restrictions.
Lao said they were looking at increasing the flight frequencies in the existing China routes moving forward. China had been one of the top sources of international tourist arrivals in the Philippines until the pandemic hit, prompting the country to shut borders as a safety measure.
With its reopening, the Philippines is expected to benefit from potential tourism spending. International aircraft leasing company Avolon said earlier that global aviation traffic would keep its momentum with Asia leading the growth for air travel demand, thanks to China welcoming tourists again.
Meanwhile, Cebu Pacific will start operations on its route to Da Nang, Vietnam by Dec 7. Its international network comprises 25 destinations while its domestic operations cover 35 routes.
Cebu Pacific is in the process of acquiring 100 to 150 aircraft estimated to cost $12 billion in preparation for the anticipated growth in air travel demand amid the ongoing regional airport developments.
The first batch of jets is expected to arrive as early as 2027 while the rest is slated for delivery until 2035.