Budget carrier Cebu Pacific is in talks with local government units (LGUs) to do away with RT-PCR testing for vaccinated travelers as it looks to add flights in the coming months.
Candice Iyog, vice president for marketing and customer experience, said discussions with LGUs to simplify travel requirements came with the recent easing of lockdown rules, allowing domestic leisure travel to resume.
“We’re starting to see progress in that area,” Iyog told reporters during a virtual media briefing on Thursday.
“We’re optimistic, but of course we are still in a pandemic, so we’re cautiously optimistic,” she added.
Easier travel rules would set the stage for the recovery of travel and tourism, among the hardest hit sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cebu Pacific said on Thursday it would also increase flights in October to “tourism havens” such as Siargao, Boracay and Bohol. By next month, flights to Siargao will increase to six times per week from five times, Boracay to five daily flights from four times and Bohol to 10 times per week from nine times.
“Domestic tourism will be the one leading the recovery process for us,” Iyog said. The carrier’s load factor, which measures seat occupancy, had reached the mid 50-percent level the past week, Iyog said. She explained the present load factor was still below the prepandemic level of about 85 percent.
Meanwhile, the carrier was also operating around half of its fleet of 73 aircraft due to the downturn in air travel.
Cebu Pacific was also seeking looser restrictions for international air travel. This includes the possible removal of the passenger arrival caps and shorter quarantine periods for vaccinated flyers.
“What we need to do is look at the data and look at science to inform that decision,” Iyog said.
Cebu Pacific will resume daily flights to Dubai starting Sept. 30. For Japan, Cebu Pacific will fly twice weekly to Nagoya starting Oct. 2, and Osaka on Oct. 4. The carrier will also resume Fukuoka on Nov. 5 and restart its flights to Kuala Lumpur on Oct. 4.
To bolster travel safety, Cebu Pacific said 99 percent of line pilots and 96 percent of cabin crew have already been vaccinated.
The carrier is also observing other safety measures, including extensive cleaning and disinfection protocols for all aircraft and facilities, antigen testing before duty for all frontliners and crew members, and contactless flight procedures.