Cebu Pacific Air will conduct a trial where passengers are tested at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport before flights to the southern city of General Santos.

From 3 to 14 December, passengers will undergo a free antigen test prior to boarding their flight, says the carrier. Only passengers who test negative will be allowed to board.

Cebu Pacific A320

Source: Wikimedia Commons

A Cebu Pacific A320 in October 2020

Test Before Boarding (TBB) will be the only test that passengers need to take before travelling to General Santos, which is at the southernmost tip of the Philippines on the island of Mindanao.

TBB, however, will require passengers to travel to the airport five hours before boarding.

“Safety has always been our topmost priority and in this current environment, health is part of safety,” says Candice Iyog, the airline’s vice president for marketing and customer experience.

“We look forward to the results of this pilot so we can pave way for a more confident restart of non-essential travel and a standardization of requirements across all Philippine destinations. We would also like to laud General Santos City for piloting TBB with us.”

The airline adds that it employs a number of other measures, such as daily disinfection of aircraft.

Cirium schedules data shows that Cebu Pacific operated 76 flights on the Manila-General Santos route in October, less than a third of the 302 flights it operated on the route in October 2019.

As with other carriers in the Asia-Pacific, Covid-19 has made 2020 an extremely difficult year for Cebu Pacific. For its third quarter to 30 September, it swung to an operating loss of Ps6.7 billion ($139 million), compared with an operating profit of Ps873 million a year earlier.

Revenue for the period plummeted 89% to Ps2 billion, outpacing a 52% year-on-year decline in expenses. The revenue decline was led by a dramatic 97% drop in passenger revenue year on year.