JG Summit Ready To Join SMC For USD 10B Airport Project


MANILA, Philippines—Gokongwei-led JG Summit Holdings, owner of dominant budget airline Cebu Pacific, is open to partnering with San Miguel Corp. should the government approve the latter’s proposed $10-billion international airport in Manila Bay, company president Lance Gokongwei said. The planned airport, which was recently presented to President Aquino but still requires various approvals from several departments, was aimed at decongesting Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Gokongwei also welcomed San Miguel’s airport suggestion, citing Naia’s single runway as a factor behind congestion at the aging Naia complex, which handled about 32 million passengers last year.

“We will certainly consider [San Miguel’s airport] if we were approached,” Gokongwei said.

“Clearly, the limiting factor is now capacity. Any plan to increase access to a capital city like Manila should be thoroughly considered,” he added.

Airlines like Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines, partly owned by San Miguel, would benefit from a new airport. PAL, for example, claimed that it loses about $2 million per month due to delays related to airport congestion.

Ang’s proposal calls for a four-runway international gateway, which would occupy half of the 1,600 hectares San Miguel would need to reclaim in Manila Bay. Gokongwei was among three groups that Ang said San Miguel could partner with. He also cited Henry Sy’s SM Group and Ayala Corp., led by the Zobels.

Each of these companies also made unsuccessful bids for the P17.5-billion Mactan-Cebu International Airport public private partnership deal, which was bagged by Megawide Construction Corp. and India’s GMR Infrastructure last month.

SM confirmed in a stock exchange filing Tuesday that it would consider participating in San Miguel’s airport proposal. Ayala Corp. managing director Eric Francia said in an e-mail to the Inquirer there have been no discussions at this time.

The proposal was still in the early stage and the Department of Transportation and Communications said it would invite San Miguel to provide more details.

The proposal would be under a build-transfer-operate scheme and will have transport links including a proposed 15-kilometer Airport Expressway linking to Fort Bonifacio, Ortigas and Eastwood, with alternative routes to Makati City.

It also includes plans for an “airport express rail service” that would bring the total travel time between the airport and the Makati City financial district to 11 minutes. Ang said San Miguel would welcome an open bidding process should his proposal be accepted by the government.

“Everybody will have an equal chance to build this airport using the same location, same idea and same study, which I have provided the government,” Ang said in an interview last week.

Source: Miguel R. Camus, PDI

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SMC Reviews Airport Partners


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By Jennifer B. Austria, MST
Image Source: Angelo Agcamaran

San Miguel Corp. president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang said Tuesday he is studying offers from several conglomerates interested in teaming up with his company to build a $10-billion Manila Bay airport.

Ang said in an interview he received calls from SM Investments Corp. vice chairman Tessie Sy and JG Summit Holdings Inc. president and chief operating officer Lance Gokongwei about the proposed airport project.

International Container Terminal Services Inc. chairman Enrique Razon Jr. was also quoted as saying last week he was willing to team up with SMC on the venture.

“I am thinking about it,” Ang said, when asked whether he was ready to form partnerships with interested parties for the airport project.

San Miguel early this month presented the proposed $10-billion modern international airport project to President Benigno Aquino III.

Ang said under the plan, the airport project would be designed to have four runways capable of handling 150 million passengers annually and could accommodate 250 takeoffs and landings per hour.

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport has a capacity of only 40 takeoffs and landings per hour, he said.

Ang said while San Miguel could handle the financing of the project and it was willing to invite other businessmen such as the Sys, Gokongweis and Zobels to participate in the development of the project.

Ang said the airport would be built on the project started by Cyber Bay Corp., which has already reclaimed 157 hectares in Las Piñas and Parañaque.

Ang said as the whole project would require 1,600 hectares of land, San Miguel was in talks with a potential partner that would oversee the reclamation and construction of the project.

San Miguel, which also owns a stake in flag carrier Philippine Airlines, proposed to finance the $10-billion construction cost of the new airport project, including an expressway that will connect the airport to the Makati central business district.

Ang said to enable San Miguel to recover the huge investments, the conglomerate proposed to operate the airport for a long-term period.

He said the proposed airport project would be more modern than the airports in Hong Kong and Singapore, both of which only have two runways.

Philippine Airlines & MedAire Forge Agreement


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Manila, Philippines – Passengers and crew on Philippine Airlines’ long-haul international flights can now be assured of round-the-clock access to some of the best medical advice in the world while in the air – thanks to a new agreement that the flag carrier has forged with MedAire, the world’s leading provider of in-flight medical advice and assistance.

Under the agreement, MedAire will provide PAL anytime access to advice and assistance from emergency physicians stationed at its MedLink Global Response Center.

The center is based at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center, a nationally ranked, multiple-awarded hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. MedLink medical assistance is available from anywhere in the world using the existing communications system of PAL aircraft.

MedAire’s MedLink doctors are available 24 hours a day to help manage in-flight medical situations as well as provide pre-flight medical guidance on whether an ill passenger is fit to fly. For instance, during an in-flight emergency, PAL pilots and cabin crew contact the MedLink center and communicate with a specialist physician via the aircraft’s satellite phone, HF/VHF radio or ACARS system.

The MedAire doctor assesses the situation, guides the crew or volunteer in providing emergency care to the patient and, depending on the severity of the illness, may recommend for or against a flight diversion.

“Medical volunteers are often helpful to assist the MedAire MedLink physician,” said Paulo Alves, MedAire’s Global Medical Director of Aviation. “But remember, volunteers are passengers first – and, depending on their specialty background, may not have the appropriate qualifications to assist the passenger or make a confident decision should they be asked whether they recommend a diversion.”

Source: Tempo Online

Philippine Airlines: Staying Connected


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The netizens of the world’s social-media capital may now take—and share—their selfies at 30,000 feet.

Philippine Airlines (PAL), the country’s flag carrier, recently introduced its newest long-range aircraft, the Airbus A330-330 HGW (high gross weight) jet, as part of the company’s ongoing fleet-modernization program. The plane offers GSM (Global System for Mobile) and Wi-Fi capabilities midflight through its “iN AiR” connectivity feature.

“The advent of the biclass A330 HGW completes our menu of new product offerings,” PAL President and CEO Ramon S. Ang said. “This sophisticated aircraft is aimed at the discriminating business segment of the market, an important part of PAL’s customer base.”

The aircraft’s passengers may avail themselves of Internet access onboard via Wi-Fi at the rates of $5 for 30 minutes, $10 for an hour, $20 for two hours, and at $40, they can stay connected throughout the flight to upload a snapshot or check e-mail. Also, calls and text messaging, which were once not allowed in-flight, are now also available via GSM. “We are now entering a new generation of in-flight entertainment,” Ang said. Aside from offering precious in-flight connectivity, this mammoth of a plane can ferry 368 passengers—323 in economy, 27 in the more spacious premium economy, and 18 in luxurious business class. The airbus will serve flights to Abu Dhabi, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Haneda, Nagoya and Seoul.

Plus, what makes the flight experience even more unique and special in this aircraft is the new wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE), marking a first in the Philippines airline market.

“Through wireless technology, we are able to enhance and personalize our IFE offerings, and deliver these straight to the passenger’s own gadget,” Ang exclaimed.

Passengers can now stream videos, movies, music and television shows using their smartphones, laptops and tablets in-flight. Had your gadgets checked-in? No worries, as PAL even lends iPads to its passengers for free.

Beyond the tech goodness that PAL now offers, the business-class passenger can now also enjoy some shut-eye as if he or she were snoozing away in his or her own room, what with the sophisticated and ultra-modern Equinox 3D seats of this premium cabin class, which can be transformed into a bed with the click of a button.

The V-shaped twin-seat design extends to 6 feet long, with the window seat elevating just above the arm rest and the aisle seat just above the floor for better slumber experience on air, and comes with the full range of features sought by business-class passengers: electrical leg rest with ottoman; retractable privacy divider; in-seat power supply; USB port; glass holder; reading light; coat hook; electrical seat controls; and ample storage space to keep belongings within reach.

This topnotch design is by French firm Sogerma, debuting the technology first to PAL. The French company has been providing state-of-the-art business-class seat designs to major airlines, including Emirates, Etihad Airways and China Southern Airlines.

Michael Tan, one of PAL’s board members and son of company owner Lucio Tan, said there are six more A330s set to arrive as part of the company’s fleet-modernization program.

AirAsia CEO Calls On Philippines To Ascend To ASEAN’s Open Skies


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AirAsia (AK, Kuala Lumpur Int’l) Group CEO Tony Fernandes has called on the Philippines to ascent to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) multilateral Open Skies agreement. Fernandes argued that being part of the treaty would boost local tourism help while helping to drive down air fares through the introduction of competition.

However, the Filipino government has rejected the move on the grounds that the current standard of the country’s infrastructure – Manila in particular – would not be able to take the added pressure.

“The challenge in Manila is congestion,” Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima told the Philippine Flight Network. “We need to fix our infrastructure bottlenecks.”

In a bid to improve conditions at the ageing airfield, AirAsia’s local subsidiary, AirAsia Zest (Z2,Manila), has begun lobbying government to establish a new terminal at Manila airport dedicated to Low Cost Carriers stating that it is is willing to provide the design and expertise needed to get the project started.

While Manila’s issues are gradually resolved, Purisima has put forward a compromise – a “Pocket Open Skies” agreement in which select secondary airports throughout the country would be opened up to international traffic.

“We would love more connections and we thank Tony Fernandes for connecting cities in the Philippines to the rest of the region. We’ve seen the benefits of it,” said Purisima.

However, commentators have warned that any policy decisions taken must be made in consultation with Cebu Pacific Air (5J, Manila) and Philippine Airlines (PR, Manila) both of which have expressed grave concerns over the opening up of Filipino skies to the likes of Tigerair (TR, Singapore Changi),Malaysia Airlines (MH, Kuala Lumpur Int’l), Vietnam Airlines (VN, Hanoi), Garuda Indonesia (GA,Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta) and AirAsia (AK, Kuala Lumpur Int’l) among others.

The airlines argue that as privately run operations, they do not enjoy state-backing and would therefore be put at a serious disadvantage in comparison to some regional competitors whose governments both fund and protect them.

Philippines AirAsia (PQ, Manila) has meanwhile announced that it is considering relaunching operations from Clark from 2016 when the so called NLEX-SLEX Connector Road is expected to be completed cutting travel times between central Manila and Clark to 45 minutes. It had originally launched from Clark, not very successfully though, and then consolidated all operations in Manila as part of the cooperation agreement with Zest.

Source: http://www.ch-aviation.com/

Cebu Pacific’s Rain Advertisement


Cebu Pacific’s Rain Codes to boost bookings: http://youtu.be/RkTT0ADo2Uo

Image Source: Ogilvy & Mathers
Image Source: Ogilvy & Mathers
Image Source: Ogilvy & Mathers
Image Source: Ogilvy & Mathers.

The clever campaign has sprayed-painted Hong Kong streets advertising a deal to the sunny Philippines so that it only shows up when the pavement is wet.

Image Source: Ogilvy & Mathers
Image Source: Ogilvy & Mathers. It is certainly one way to inspire bored commuters on a rainy day – a travel advert that only appears in wet weather.

The quirky advert, from airline Cebu Pacific, announces to dreary commuters: ‘It’s sunny in the Philippines’.

Created to coincide with Hong Kong’s monsoon season, when the city receives just 100 hours of sunshine in a month, the publicity stunt used ingenious technology so that it only shows up in the rain.

A waterproof spray was used to stencil the advert onto the pavements, making them invisible until wet weather hits, when water droplets roll off the sprayed surface, revealing the message.

The sunny advert was also accompanied by a QR code – known in this case as a ‘rain code’ – meaning wet commuters could scan the ground with their phone and get the latest flight deals to the sunny Philippines.

The advertising agency behind the stunt, Ogilvy & Mathers, said the monsoon season campaign saw 37 per cent more people logging on to the Cebu Pacific website to book discounted flights.

Kenny Blumenschein, head of creative for Geometry Global Hong Kong, which also worked on the campaign, explained: ‘The budget airline industry is highly competitive, which makes it difficult to stand out.’

Reed Collins, chief creative officer for Ogilvy & Mather Group, added: ‘Hong Kong summers are notorious for thunderstorms, so we thought, why not use the rain to bring a little sunshine into people’s lives?’

‘Our ‘rain-codes’ were so unexpected, something people had never seen before. The campaign received a lot of attention, but even better, they sparked action.’

Source: Sarah Gordon, http://www.dailymail.co.uk

Cebu Pacific Leads Jan-Mar Air Travel


MANILA – (UPDATED 5:10 p.m.) Domestic air travel inched up in the first quarter of the year even as local carriers registered no improvement in their load factor.

Data from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) show that domestic passenger traffic went up by 1.58 percent to 5.14 million in the January to March period from 5.06 million in the same three months of last year.

Eight airlines reported an average seating capacity of 6.89 million and an average load factor of 75 percent. Load factor is the number of occupied seats per flight.

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Cebu Pacific remains the country’s leading domestic carrier, with 2.65 million passengers, up five percent from 2.52 million in 2013. The Gokongwei-led budget carrier registered a load factor of 78 percent, lower than 79 percent in 2013.

“CEB attributes its passenger growth to increased presence in key markets, strategic seat sales offering the lowest possible fares and continuous network expansion,” Jorenz Tanada, Cebu Pacific’s vice president for corporate communications said in a text message. CEB is the stock market symbol of Cebu Air Inc, the operator of Cebu Pacific.

Philippine Airlines’ (PAL) domestic passenger traffic fell by 50.4 percent to 367,653 in the first three months from 740,504 in the same period last year. Its load factor remained at 71 percent.

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The flag carrier’s affiliate, PAL Express, flew 1.29 million passengers, up from 1.05 million last year. Its load factor went up to 77 percent from 74 percent over the same period.

AirAsia Zest carried 514,761 passengers this year, up from 497,993 passengers in 2013, while Tigerair Philippines flew 216,169 passengers from last year’s 209,979 passengers.

Air Asia Philippines carried 74,739 passengers, while Magnum Air flew 3,768 passengers. Island Transvoyager Inc had 17,841 passengers.

Cargo up 19 pct

For domestic cargo, the eight airlines carried a combined 53.82 million kilograms (kg) in the first quarter of the year, up 19 percent from last year’s 45.16 million.

Of the total, Cebu Pacific carried nearly half of the industry total at 25.89 million kg, up from 23 million last year. The PAL Group came in second with 20.97 million, up from 17.48 million last year, after a 141 percent increase in PAL Express’ cargo more than made up for the 29 percent drop in PAL’s volume.

AirAsia Zest’s share also slipped to 4.17 million from last year’s 4.39 million, while that of affiliate AirAsia climbed to 821,484 kg this year from 154,967 previously. Tigerair carried 1.83 million kg, up from the 93,518 last year.

source: Darwin G. Amojelar, InterAksyon.com

Cebu Pacific Flies to Saudi Arabia in 3Q


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Image Source: Philippine Planespotters Group – KLAF

MANILA – The operator of Cebu Pacific said it would mount flights to Saudi Arabia in the third quarter of this year despite cases of a deadly viral respiratory infection in Middle East.

“All regulatory approvals have been received for Saudi Arabia and we hope to start operations by the third quarter of 2014,” said Jorenz Tanada, Cebu Pacific vice president for corporate affairs.

Tanada said traffic would be mostly overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). Philippine government data show at least 1.8 million Filipinos working in Saudi.

The airline will use an A330 to operate flights to Saudi Arabia. Cebu Pacific took delivery of its fourth A330 this month and will take delivery its fifth in August.

Tanada added that the airline will push through the scheduled flight to Saudi Arabia in the third quarter despite the MERS outbreak.

“We can make adjustments to our business plans as the situation evolves. However the presumption is the Mers virus shall have tapered down by then,” Tanada said.

The Civil Aeronautics Board earlier issued an advisory directing all carriers with flights coming directly and connecting from the Arabian Peninsula to secure from the Bureau of Quarantine a health checklist and ensure dissemination of the said checklist to all passengers on board the aircraft prior to their disembarkation.

“This advisory issued to stress the importance of the Health Checklist in preventing the spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome -Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) in the Philippines; and to assist the BOQ, through, the Medical Quarantine, in intercepting passengers possibly infected by the said disease,” CAB said.

In October last year, Cebu Pacific began its Manila-Dubai service, the airline’s first Middle East route. There are over half a million Filipinos working and living in the United Arab Emirates.

The Gokongwei-led airline posted a net income of P164.164 million in the January to March period, down by 85.8 percent from the P1.157 billion in the same three months of last year.

Revenues of P11.76 billion however were 11.6 percent higher than the P10.54 billion in 2013. Passenger revenues amounted to P8.85 billion, up 8.3 percent from P8.17 billion last year.

Cebu Pacific recorded total passenger volume of 3.8 million in the first quarter from 3.5 million in the same period in 2013.

Source: Darwin G. Amojelar, InterAksyon.com

Airlines Losing Php7 Billion Due To Congested Airport


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Image Source: Angelo Agcamaran

MANILA, Philippines—Not just passengers’ frayed nerves but the bottom lines of airlines operating in the country’s premier gateway are also suffering from the horrors of air traffic congestion.

The airlines have been incurring losses of more that P7 billion a year from the massive fuel expense because of the worsening congestion at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia), said deputy director general John Andrews of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

Planes unable to immediately land, for example, would need to burn extra amounts of fuel, he said.

Andrews estimated that about 200,000 to 400,000 kilograms in additional fuel are expended as a result of the congestion, or P10 million to P20 million a day, by the airlines.

Airlines incur close to P3.7 billion a year in added fuel expenses and lose another P3.7 billion from “engine costs and cost of aircraft time,” he said.

For this reason, the airlines are supporting a plan to construct a second parallel runway for Naia, where capacity at its sole primary runway has been struggling to keep up with increasing demand for air travel, Andrews said.

According to Andrews, the second runway, at about 2,300-kilometers long, is shorter than the 3,400-km primary runway. But its completion will allow a 50 percent increase in take-off and landing events to 60 per hour from the existing 40, he said. It is estimated to cost P2 billion.

“I think I have already convinced Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary [Joseph Abaya] that this is the only option available to us,” Andrews said.

Abaya earlier said that a key issue was the expropriation of land, involving about 600 homes of squatters and private homeowners, but Andrews said this would not be a major issue for the government.

“This can easily be done with the proper political will,” he said.

Andrews said CAAP did not expect that there would be any compliance issues with international air safety bodies like the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

“It is already ICAO compliant. There are no major problems or issues we cannot mitigate,” said Andrews, who was part of the team that played a key role in getting Philippine air safety upgrades from the United States and Europe.

Abaya had said in a previous interview that he supported a second parallel runway in Naia as it would be a faster fix than long-term proposals, which include building a new international airport.

San Miguel Corp., a part owner of flag carrier Philippine Airlines, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) are looking at possible locations in the Manila Bay and Sangley Point, Cavite, respectively, to build a new $10-billion air gateway designed with four runways on reclaimed land.

Abaya said it was unlikely for any new international airport serving Manila to start construction by the time President Aquino steps down in 2016.

Source: , PDI.