Cebu Pacific puts brakes on long-haul operations

Cebu Pacific puts brakes on long-haul operations

Cebu Pacific photo

Cebu Pacific is limiting its long-haul flight services given the global supply chain issue that grounded some of its jets, but the budget carrier is still expecting to surpass prepandemic passenger volumes via its domestic and short-haul operations.

Xander Lao, president and chief commercial officer of the Gokongwei-led airline, told reporters last week it was not ideal to beef up its long-haul network at this time.


“We’ve taken the step back and maybe now is not the right time to expand in the long-haul market given the Pratt & Whitney (P&W) [issue] we’re experiencing,” he said.


Service provider P&W had reported struggles with operations due to lack of spare parts. In addition, P&W is also recalling some A320neo (new engine option) units for inspection due to a “rare condition in powdered metal used to manufacture certain engine parts.”

About 10 to 20 Cebu Pacific aircraft are currently parked for maintenance, according to Lao. The carrier currently operates a 70-unit fleet but it expects to grow this to 76 by end of the year.

Due to concerns over fleet count, Lao said they would be reducing flight schedules to Dubai to one per day starting in March next year from twice daily. “Dubai continues to be an important market for us and something we want to grow into. But in the meantime, we have to be pragmatic and manage existing issues brought about by the P&W,” Lao explained.

Frequency of flights to Australia would be maintained, he added.Wide-body aircraft

In the meantime, Lao said they would ramp up services by deploying wide-body aircraft for flights to Cebu, Davao and General Santos, in addition to Hong Kong, Bangkok and Incheon.

The airline is also banking on the return of demand for flights to China in the coming year. The budget carrier is slated to reopen its Manila-Beijing route in 2024.


With the planned relaunch, Beijing will be its fifth destination in China. In January, it resumed flights to Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Xiamen.

“If that (demand for flights to China) improves, then clearly, we’ll be beyond our 2019 [level] by next year,” he said. Before the pandemic, Cebu Pacific serviced about 22 million passengers.

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Lao said capital expenditures for next year would be earmarked mostly for leasing and buying new planes as more units are grounded because of the P&W problem. INQ

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