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Cebu Pacific expects return to profitability in first quarter

BUDGET carrier Cebu Pacific (CEB) said it is aiming to turn profitable in the first quarter of this year as it is set to restore pre-pandemic network and capacity levels by March.

“By the first quarter, we aim and we hope to be profitable. It really depends [as] fuel prices started coming up again, that’s going to be a challenge,” CEB President and Chief Executive Officer Alexander G. Lao told reporters in a media briefing on Wednesday.

“First quarter traditionally is strong, particularly for January. February is not a great month for airlines throughout the world, [but] hopefully, March will be better,” Mr. Lao said.

CEB is hoping to be profitable for the full year, citing the strengthening of the local currency as among the drivers.

During the briefing, CEB VicePresident for Marketing and Customer Experience Candice Jennifer A. Iyog said that the company is targeting to restore its pre-pandemic capacity and destinations by March.

“Part of the restoration is the easing of restrictions. We bring back destinations when the market is ready to come back,” Ms. Iyog said. 

To meet this target, CEB will be offering seat sales, widening its domestic network, and reinstating all international destinations including Melbourne, Macau, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Xiamen.

The carrier will also be increasing the frequency of flights to international destinations such as Bangkok, Brunei, Sydney and Guangzhou.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lao said that the New Year technical glitch at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport had minimal effect on the airline.

“Obviously, it’s not a great experience for those that were impacted [but it quickly normalized the day or days after] … I think it is what it is, [we] dealt with it and it won’t impact our recovery,” Mr. Lao said.

According to Mr. Lao, what is important is the quick recovery of operations with the help of the government.

Meanwhile, CEB is done with capital-raising activities, which will be mainly used for its target of 10 additional aircraft this year.

“We are looking at P42 billion capital expenditure for 2023. Obviously, most of that would be aircraft-related,” Mr. Lao said. — Justine Irish D. Tabile

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