Cebu Pacific (CEB), the Philippines’ largest carrier, welcomed the arrival of its second ATR-freighter, further boosting its growing cargo operations.
The converted ATR 72-500 joins two other dedicated cargo aircraft in CEB’s fleet. CEB recently modified one of its A330-300 into an all-cargo configuration, removing seats so that cargo can be carried in the main deck. The freighters are part of CEB’s response to growing demand for affordable transport of essential goods and commodities.
Despite the decrease in flight count due to current travel restrictions, CEB’s cargo operations have remained active to ensure transport of goods is not hampered. During the first few months of the Philippines’ community quarantine, only cargo flights were allowed to operate, and now this stream accounts for 66 per cent of revenue in Q3 2020, as compared to 8 per cent during the same period last year.
To date, CEB has carried over 43,600 tonnes of goods to and from domestic and international cargo destinations since the pandemic broke out in March. Hong Kong, Dubai, Japan, Thailand, Shanghai and Guangzhou are amongst the carrier’s top destinations for cargo operations, top commodities being flown are semiconductors, automotive parts, aquaculture products, medical goods, fruits and flowers.
On top of boosting cargo operations, CEB continues to remain agile during the COVID-19 crisis by exploring alternative revenue streams to weather the pandemic. Some of these efforts include the introduction of hybrid flights with separate sectors for passengers and cargo, Seat Occupying Cargo (SOC), and the most recent capital raising exercise to strengthen its balance sheet and ensure that it is well-positioned to recover from the impact of this unprecedented crisis.
“Amidst this pandemic, we have been evaluating our business and were able to identify opportunities to innovate and remain agile in the face of uncertainty. We expect cargo operations to continue growing as we reprioritize and utilise our existing aircraft fleet to respond to the increased demand. Besides pivoting to focus more on cargo operations, we are also mobilising our aircraft to give back to the community by working closely with government agencies, organisations, and partners to ensure logistics support is fully covered,” said Alex Reyes, Vice President for Commercial, Cebu Pacific Air.
Over the course of this pandemic, CEB has organised over 270 sweeper flights domestically to help repatriate stranded Filipinos to return to their hometowns – all of which were made possible through partnerships with key government agencies. CEB also partnered with various organizations to provide free transport of medicines, COVID-19 test kits and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to several provinces.
CEB also continues to aid in requests for humanitarian cargo flights. To date, the carrier has transported over 278 tons of essential cargo, free-of-charge, to key domestic destinations including Cebu, Bacolod, Puerto Princesa, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, and General Santos.