Cebu Pacific Air (5J, Manila Ninoy Aquino Int'l) will lay off more than 800 employees across the group by August 2020, the equivalent of 25% of the carrier’s workforce, it said in a statement on July 8.

The number comes on top of around 200 staff who opted to retire early in June, and 190 newly-hired cabin crew let go in March. Cebu Pacific had already confirmed a “right-sizing” programme for its 4,000 employees last month but gave no details, the Philippines’ Business Inquirer newspaper reported.

“This is a difficult but necessary decision for CEB in order to fulfil its long term commitment to provide affordable and accessible air transport services to the public,” the company said. “Rest assured that this process was undertaken with utmost transparency, sensitivity, and responsibility to all CEB stakeholders”.

After the low-cost carrier conducted a review of its long-term plans due to the rapid changes facing the industry, “it was clear [...] that CEB was too big for the operational requirements and expected new norms in the industry,” it added.

Despite resuming scheduled operations on June 2, capacity has been a mere 10% of what it was before strict quarantine measures were implemented across the country.

“When it was clear that the rebuilding of the network and operational restart was slower than expected, tenured employees were given the option to voluntarily separate from the company,” the statement recounted.

In May, Cebu Pacific said it would halve spending this year, mainly on the acquisition of new aircraft. It currently has a fleet of 76 aircraft and had planned to expand its fleet with 61 new aircraft by 2026.

The fleet includes twenty-nine A320-200s, five A320-200neo, seven A321-200s, six A321-200NX, eight A330-300s, as well as seven ATR72-500s, one ATR72-500(F), and thirteen ATR72-600s operated by Cebgo (DG, Manila Ninoy Aquino Int'l).

The layoffs at Cebu add to around 2,150 aviation jobs lost in the Philippines since February including 300 at Philippine Airlines, 260 at AirAsia Philippines, and 1,400 at 1Aviation Groundhandling Services Corp.