Noting progress, CEB to expand nework

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    As the government eases local travel restrictions, Cebu Pacific (CEB) eyes to expand its network by yearend to 30 percent of pre-coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic levels from the current 23 percent.

    Candice Iyog, CEB vice president for marketing and customer experience, said in a virtual briefing the airline has noted some progress.

    Last December, CEB was operating only 16 percent of the pre-COVID network and has increased this as major local destinations now accept leisure travelers.

    At present, CEB is operating about 23 percent of its pre-COVID network, with 32 Philippine destinations.

    It is flying in six domestic destinations open for leisure: Boracay, Bacolod, Cebu, Bohol, Coron and Siargao.

    In a recent survey conducted by CEB, Iyog said 76 percent of the respondents plan to travel again this year.

    She added that the new protocols set by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) will help restore domestic travel.

    Under the new IATF protocols, travelers within the Philippines will no longer be required to undergo COVID-19 testing, except if the local government unit (LGU) of destination shall require testing prior to travel.

    Also, travelers no longer have to undergo quarantine unless they show symptoms upon arrival at the LGU of destination.

    Iyog reiterated the air transport sector is a major contributor to the economy, with domestic tourism alone contributing over P3 trillion in earnings, approximately 11 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

    CEB also permanently removed the change fees, allowing passengers to rebook flights without cost as part of initiatives to restore passenger confidence in air travel.

    Meanwhile, CEB said it has no plans to implement manpower reduction this year, after 30 percent or around 1,300 employees were retrenched last year.

    In 2020, CEB and its unit Cebgo’s passenger volume fell by 77 percent to 3.5 million, from 14.9 million passengers carried in 2019, based on data from the Civil Aeronautics Board.

    CEB had 906,655 international passengers last year, significantly lower than the prior year, due to the strict travel restrictions since March last year to stem the COVID-19 outbreak.