Friday, October 4, 2013
Philippine Air Carriers Expanding Service Overseas
MANILA (Nikkei)--The Philippines' two largest air carriers are vying to expand overseas services amid robust flows of Filipino workers and other international travelers between the Southeast Asian nation and the Middle East and Europe.
Beginning Monday, Cebu Air Inc., which operates as Cebu Pacific Air, will introduce direct daily flights to Dubai from Manila using just-purchased Airbus A330 aircraft. This will be the budget carrier's first long-haul route, with fares priced 35% lower than the competition.
- Cebu Pacific recently acquired this Airbus A330 jet.
Dubai is said to be home to half a million Filipino guest workers. Cebu Air President Lance Gokongwei stresses that Dubai offers a great business opportunity.
Cebu Pacific is the Philippines' largest budget airline with roughly 9.5 million domestic travelers in 2012, or 50% of the market. But in the international arena, it ranks second after Philippine Airlines Inc.
The two carriers are now taking their fight to Europe. The European Union imposed a ban on the entry of Philippine planes in 2010, citing safety concerns. In July, the EU decided to allow flagship carrier Philippine Air to resume flights to European cities. The airline now plans to launch Manila-London flights in November, marking the end of a 15-year hiatus stretching back to 1998. The carrier, then mired in financial trouble following the 1997 Asian financial crisis, stopped flying to Europe altogether. It has spent 10 billion dollars to buy Airbus and other jetliners for long-haul international services.
Cebu Air is currently in talks with EU authorities to obtain similar certification. Cebu is also expected to receive clearance this year from the U.S. -- which has also imposed restrictions -- this year, according to Gokongwei.
(The Nikkei, Oct. 4 morning edition)