aviation industry

Revenge travel brings Cebu Pacific back to profitability in Q1

Lance Spencer Yu

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Revenge travel brings Cebu Pacific back to profitability in Q1

CEBU PACIFIC. The first of 32 A321neo aircraft ordered by Cebu Pacific takes off from Hamburg, Germany.

Cebu Pacific

After posting net losses every quarter since the pandemic hit in 2020, Cebu Pacific earned a net income of P1.1 billion in the first quarter of 2023, driven largely by surging passenger demand

MANILA, Philippines – More passengers in more flights to more destinations pushed Cebu Pacific‘s first quarter net income to P1.1 billion, up big from the P7.6 billion loss during the same period last year. 

Pent-up travel demand was among the biggest drivers of the low-cost carrier’s return to profitability. Revenues for its passenger business skyrocketed by 352% year-on-year, hitting P14.3 billion in the first quarter compared to P3.161 billion earned in the same period last year.

Passenger volume more than doubled from 2.0 million to 4.8 million, with more – and fuller – flights being flown. Travelers are simply spending more in general too, with the average fare jumping from P1,543 to P2,971.

(READ: Revenge travel is here – so where do Filipinos go?)

The company’s ancillary business – which includes cancellation and rebooking options, and in-flight merchandising – also contributed P5.46 billion, up 221% year-on-year. All in all, total revenue soared from P6.709 billion to P20.877 billion, or 211% higher than the first quarter last year.

What’s the impact on the bottom line?

For the first time since the pandemic struck, Cebu Pacific ended a quarter out of the red, with its net income crossing the P1 billion mark. Note that pre-tax core net income, one of the company’s key performance indicators, reached P0.522 billion for the quarter – still an improvement over last year’s P6.121 billion loss, although the numbers aren’t quite as dramatic. 

Along with the boost in revenue came controversy, however. Cebu Pacific’s Super Pass sale, held on the last day of the first quarter, sparked complaints after several netizens were charged multiple times while attempting to avail of the promo. One netizen told Rappler that they were charged more than P15,000 while trying to buy only a handful of vouchers. Cebu Pacific has since apologized for the “system glitch,” but customers may still have to wait months to get their refunds.

(READ: ‘We want our money back’: Cebu Pacific promo leaves affected netizens with multiple charges)

Cautious optimism

Earlier this year, Cebu Pacific executives were “cautiously optimistic” of fully restoring pre-COVID systemwide capacity by the end of the first quarter, while also noting that the tourism industry may take a few years to normalize. They have now pushed this goal to the second quarter of the year.

“CEB [Cebu Pacific] expects that in the second quarter, it will exceed its pre-pandemic capacity on a systemwide basis, supported by an optimistic outlook as the tourism industry continues to recover, plus the strengthening of its Clark and Cebu hubs,” the company said in a press release on Friday, May 5.

Prior to the suspension of all its regular flights due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the airline group operated 78 domestic routes and 25 international routes with a total of 2,717 scheduled weekly flights. 

Cebu Pacific also forecasts that it will reach 2019 international capacity levels during the second quarter of 2023, while also resuming domestic routes such as Manila to Laoag, Iloilo to Puerto Princesa, and Iloilo to Cagayan de Oro.

The Gokongwei-owned carrier is currently flying 60 domestic and 28 international routes, with a total of 2,595 scheduled weekly flights as of the first quarter of 2023. Before the suspension of regular flights due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Cebu Pacific operated 78 domestic routes and 25 international routes, with a total of 2,717 scheduled weekly flights.

How Chinese visitors could boost Philippine tourism in pandemic’s wake

How Chinese visitors could boost Philippine tourism in pandemic’s wake

– Rappler.com

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Lance Spencer Yu

Lance Spencer Yu is a multimedia reporter who covers the transportation, tourism, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, and corporate sectors, as well as macroeconomic issues.