Local carriers gear up for ‘revenge travel’ demand

Richmond Mercurio - The Philippine Star
Local carriers gear up for ârevenge travelâ demand
Airline ground staff (L) wearing protective gear work at the counter at the airport in Manila on August 4, 2020.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Local carriers are gearing up and desperately looking forward to “revenge travel” after the pummeling they experienced due to travel restrictions brought about by the pandemic.

Revenge travel refers to the expected surge in demand once restrictions ease up, as people hope to get back the travel opportunities and moments they lost and missed during lockdowns.

“Revenge travel is expected once a good percentage of the people have undergone vaccination,” flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) said.

“There’s pent up non-essential travel demand. These are people who have probably planned on going to these leisure destinations during the summer break, but were unable to go because of the lockdown or the ban on non-essential travel,” Cebu Pacific vice president for marketing and customer experience Candice Iyog said.

Both Philippine carriers are coming off whopping losses last year, with revenues plummeting as planes were grounded and majority of flights were cancelled.

PAL incurred a P73-billion net comprehensive loss in 2020, while Cebu Pacific recorded a net loss of P22.2 billion.

Given these huge and mounting losses, airlines need the help of a post-pandemic travel boom to get back on their feet, analysts said.

PAL said the availability of COVID-19 vaccine brings hope that passenger traffic would be better than 2020.

The flag carrier is planning to densify selected aircraft in order to accommodate the expected increase in passenger demand for certain markets when confidence to travel resumes, resulting in lower costs and improved margins.

Flight schedules and timings will also be enhanced to provide convenience and better connections to attract more passengers, according to the airline.

“While COVID-19 continues to devastate the world, it opened a new opportunity for the PAL Group. An opportunity to revisit our business model, develop a new plan, rationalize our fleet, create a lean organizational structure, simplify processes and maximize use of digitalization,” PAL said.

“Data analysis will be at the forefront to better understand the need of our passengers who remain loyal with the company through ups and downs. Aspiring passengers will be captured through innovative service offerings and new markets will be explored to maximize aircraft utilization,” it said.

Cebu Pacific, for its part, is coming up with ways to help speed up travel recovery by boosting travel confidence and ensuring that it continues to provide affordable and flexible options for passengers.

Iyog said Cebu Pacific is also calibrating in terms of its operations, adding more flights as it sees the demand go up.

“What we do now is we prepare for the bounce back and do everything that is within our control to support and aid the confidence to restart,” Iyog said.


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