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