Cebu Pacific Cleared for US Flights

Cebu Pacific, the country's largest low-cost carrier has been cleared for flights to the United States after the US Department of Transportation lifted a provision on June 5 that prevented Cebu Pacific from operating its own flights to the United States.

the big juan
Copyright Photo: Manuel Nierra/PPSG
The US Department of Transportation cited the recent restoration of Category 1 status in the Philippines as the premise for removing the provision. Cebu Pacific was previously banned from flying to the United States after the US Federal Aviation Administration downgraded the Philippines to Category 2 six years ago. 

Philippine Airlines was left as the only carrier operating flights between Manila and United States prior to the downgrade, while Cebu Pacific was permitted to operate flights to the US but only through a wet lease agreement. Under a wet lease, Cebu Pacific would lease the aircraft and crew of another carrier. This type of agreement is commonly used by airlines to operate in territories where it is banned from operating. However, after lengthy research, Cebu Pacific found such an arrangement to be infeasible. 

With the notice issued on June 5, the US Department of Transportation specifically approved the removal of the provision that required Cebu Pacific to only conduct operations in the United States through wet lease agreement. This now paves the way for the carrier to continue with its plan to launch flights operated by its own crew and aircraft to US destinations such as Guam and Hawaii. 

According to the US Department of Transportation, Cebu Pacific was originally granted permission to fly to the United States under wet lease conditions while the Philippines remained in Category 2 status under the Federal Aviation Administration's safety assessment program. But with the recent restoration of Category 1 status in April, the United States sees no reason for these restrictions to remain in place. 

"The FAA has now announced that the Philippines has achieved IASA Category 1 status, and Cebu Pacific has accordingly sought amendment of its authority to remove the wet lease restriction," said the US Department of Transportation. "We would note that on May 28, 2014, the FAA advised us that it knew of no reason why we should act unfavorably on the applicant's request."

With the clearance, Cebu Pacific is now permitted to mount direct flights from Manila to a number of destinations including Guam, Saipan, and Hawaii. It is believed that Cebu Pacific will launch service to the United States before the end of this year. While the permit also allows Cebu Pacific to serve mainland US destinations including Los Angeles and San Francisco, these destinations will need to wait until Cebu Pacific can acquire aircraft that are capable of serving these cities non-stop. 

Currently, the Airbus A330-300 is the longest-range aircraft in the Cebu Pacific fleet but it can only reach as far as Hawaii in the United States from Manila. Cebu Pacific is currently planning to launch flights to Saudi Arabia and Australia later this year using its wide-body fleet.  The carrier is concentrating on developing its long-haul business after launching its first long distance route to Dubai late last year. 


  1. not a good idea... no one is gonna buy tickets that are not even worth it for the cramp seats that they will provide... if they get the b787-8, they might do the 3-4-3... not the usual 3-3-3 seating..

    1. You are underestimating how cheap some people are.

      Also, PAL's 10 abreast (instead of 9) configuration in their over-publicized 777s are equally horrible...

  2. Cebu Pacific might have a chance, if they are going slash their prices way below the industry standard.

  3. Cebu Pacific and PAL will always reconfigure the seating from what is the industry standard aircraft configuration in order to make more money. They think their passengers are sardines and will try to squeeze them as much as they can. They have absolutely no regard for passenger comfort especially on long-haul flights. I would recommend Cathay, Singapore Airlines, Korean Air and Thai Airways. Their prices are reasonable and the service is good.

  4. I always find it amusing when someone compares Cebu Pacific to Full Service Carriers... I don't know if you're simply unaware or you just really don't know the difference between and LCC and a full service legacy carrier. To compare 5J with CX, SQ, KE, or TG is literally like comparing Apples and a really cheap Orange.

    If they launch services to the US, I guarantee you that they'll change the game yet again. It may not be comfortable but if it's cheap people will get it. The Philippines is a VFR market hence our problem with premium services like business class. We can never get business class because most passengers don't have airline loyalty. They'll choose the cheapest flight possible even if the difference is just USD20.

    I managed to snag very cheap tickets via 5J during their last PISO Fare sale and trust me, if they do the same for US flights you'll see a massive shift in the market. It'll enable more people to fly to the US more often therefore enabling more economic activity within the Philippines. 5J entering the US - PHIL market will reap benefits. That's a FACT.

  5. As long as they have food, I'd catch a flight from LAX to problem!


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