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Cebu Pacific may regain pre-COVID-19 numbers in 2024

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star
Cebu Pacific may regain pre-COVID-19 numbers in 2024
Cebu Pacific president and chief commercial officer Alexander Lao told reporters that the airline would fall short of its 2023 target of flying more than 22 million passengers, its pre-pandemic high.
Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines — Low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific expects to hit its pre-pandemic numbers for passengers flown only by 2024, as the airline faced fleet challenges this year arising from the shortage in jet engines.

Cebu Pacific president and chief commercial officer Alexander Lao told reporters that the airline would fall short of its 2023 target of flying more than 22 million passengers, its pre-pandemic high.

Lao blamed the shortcoming to the problems that Cebu Pacific continue to face with one of its biggest parts suppliers, Pratt & Whitney.

“I don’t think we will hit 22 million passengers for the year. I think we will be slightly below that given all of the Pratt & Whitney issues. By year-end, we will be at 103 percent of our pre-COVID capacity on a system-wide basis. However, from a passenger point of view, I don’t think we will hit the 2019 number just yet,” Lao said.

All throughout the year, Cebu Pacific dealt with supply chain disruptions that forced it to ground several of its Airbus jets. Worse, the issue remains unsolved that Cebu Pacific expects to park at least one in every five of its aircraft in 2024.

Pratt & Whitney is undertaking a recall of engines it created for A320neos to fix a manufacturing flaw, and this is expected to affect 20 of the 92 units that Cebu Pacific will manage in 2024.

Right now, airlines around the globe have to wait for a minimum of 240 days before their aircraft are returned from the shop.

In response, Cebu Pacific will embark on short-term changes in its fleet and operations to serve the recovery of air travel demand in the Philippines.

For one, the airline signed a damp lease with Bulgaria’s flag carrier Bulgaria Air for the rental of aircraft from January to May next year. The deal will require Bulgaria Air to station two jets in Manila, lending them to Cebu Pacific to operate flights to Cebu and Davao.

Likewise, Cebu Pacific will cut its flight frequencies to long-haul destinations like Dubai to reallocate aircraft for short-haul, but popular routes like Bangkok and Hong Kong. By March 2024, the airline will reduce Dubai flights to once a day from twice a day.

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