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Tourism News

Cebu Pacific Air: 25 years in operations

Cebu Pacific Air: 25 years in operations
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Written by Harry Johnson

Cebu Pacific has fulfilled the vision of John Gokongwei Jr. aka “Big John” to make air travel accessible to more Filipinos

  • Cebu Pacific has come a long way as it marks 25 fruitful years since it first took to the skies in 1996
  • As part of CEB’s commitment to ensure its long-term operations and dedication to continue serving the public, the airline recently signed a PHP16 billion ten-year term loan facility on 5 March 2021 with a syndicate of Philippines domestic banks
  • Cebu Pacific has weathered many challenges under the steady and able leadership of Lance Gokongwei, CEO, Cebu Pacific Lance Gokongwei

Cebu Pacific (CEB), the Philippines’ largest carrier, is proud to celebrate its 25th anniversary today. Cebu Pacific has come a long way as it marks 25 fruitful years since it first took to the skies in 1996. In the process, it has fulfilled the vision of John Gokongwei Jr. aka “Big John” to make air travel accessible to more Filipinos. And while the airline is known for offering low fares and great value has encountered its fair share of turbulent skies—not the least of which is the ongoing pandemic that has upended the global airline and tourism sector like never before—it has weathered many challenges under the steady and able leadership of Lance Gokongwei, CEO, Cebu Pacific Lance Gokongwei.

Marking 25 years of flying everyJuan  

It was sometime in the late 1980s, recalls Cebu Pacific president and CEO Lance Y. Gokongwei, when his late father, first toyed with the idea of starting his own airline. 

He did not possess any experience in running an airline – yet this did not deter the older Gokongwei, nor did the prospect of going against an established goliath bother him. Besides, it was an upbeat period as the local aviation industry was steadily opening up with the liberalisation of air travel. 

“He was in the United States at that time and read about a low-cost carrier called Southwest. That’s how all this started,” said Lance. “He came up to my office one day and said, ‘I started this airline—can you think of anyone who could help?’ For me, that meant he wanted me to help, so that’s what I did.” 

Today, Lance Gokongwei credits CEB’s success to the many valuable life and business lessons that he picked-up from his dad whom he describes as a ‘classic entrepreneur’ and a visionary; learnings that guide him every step of the way in running Cebu Pacific and other Gokongwei family interests under JG Summit Holdings. “All the lessons my dad taught us – he taught not through words, but by example. And all the lessons he taught, guide me until now,” Lance shares. 

Lessons from Big John 

Even as a successful businessman, Big John never hesitated in seeking advice from others – a firm believer that learning never ends.  Says Lance: “You can never stop learning from others. Even when you’re the boss or the manager, you will benefit from the ideas of your colleagues.”  

If necessary, he continues, go ahead and tap the expertise of consultants and join industry groups that discuss problems in your field because “no matter what challenges arise, make sure to find the solution, even if it doesn’t come from yourself.”  

While musing on the business triumphs of his dad, including that of Cebu Pacific, Lance said in 2019: “’Till today, I think Dad was most successful with businesses that catered to every man, the common man, because that’s who he was himself.” 

Commitment to serve  

Amid the challenges the airline is facing today, Lance expresses gratitude to the passengers and customers who have trusted Cebu Pacific with their life’s important moments. “The unwavering support you have given us through the years propels us to pursue new opportunities, to usher #MoreSmilesAhead with everyJuan,” he says.   

Lance adds that Cebu Pacific stays committed in serving the public, with utmost safety, convenience, and fun in every flight. “Our strong team – from the flight crew to the operations team, to those working from home or offices across the network – remain true to their service in making sure you arrive to your destination as safe and comfortable as possible,” he says.   

As part of CEB’s commitment to ensure its long-term operations and dedication to continue serving the public, the airline recently signed a PHP16 billion (approx. 440 million SGD) ten-year term loan facility on 5 March 2021 with a syndicate of Philippines domestic banks.

This syndicated loan facility is a landmark deal that exhibits the strong partnership between government financial institutions and private domestic banks to support Cebu Pacific who along with the entire airline industry have been severely impacted by the COVID pandemic. This term loan facility which was equally participated in by government financial institutions and leading private sector domestic banks, further represents the confidence of these institutions in the recovery of the Philippine economy and the belief that Cebu Pacific will continue to play a leading and vital role in this economic recovery.

CEB President and CEO Lance Gokongwei said, “We at JG Summit and Cebu Pacific are grateful for the confidence of the Philippine banking community, given the participation by both the government owned financial institutions and the private sector commercial banks in this landmark syndicated loan facility. Cebu Pacific remains focused on its business transformation to reduce its unit cost so as to continue to offer affordable flights and remain as our country’s airline for every Juan.”