Cebu Pacific flew 1.55M in May


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THE country’s largest budget carrier flew more passengers in the first five months of the year owing to strong operations last month.

Data from Cebu Pacific showed that it flew 1.55 million passengers in May, an 11.3-percent increase from 1.39 million passengers in the same month last year.

Service capacity, meanwhile, grew by a slower 6.9 percent to 1.70 seats from 1.59 seats in the same comparative months. This brought Cebu Pacific’s seat load factor for the month of May to 91.2 percent, a 3.6-percentage point increase from 87.6 percent in 2013.

Load factor is an indication of actual seats taken or sold versus potential. “May is among the peak months for Cebu Pacific, and our flights were about 91 percent full, an increase of 3.6 percent compared to the same period last year,” Cebu Pacific spokesman Jorenz T. Tañada said in a text message.

Year-to-date, passengers carried by the budget carrier inched up by 7.2 percent to 6.73 million customers from 6.28 million patrons. Its capacity to serve its customers grew by the almost the same rate at 7.1 percent to 7.84 million seats from 7.32 million seats. Passenger load factor barely increased to 85.9 percent to 85.8 percent.

Cebu Pacific has set a 17-million passenger volume guidance set for the year as its capacity to fly more customers increased with the inclusion of Tigerair Philippines to its operations.

Without taking into account the added capacity from Tigerair, Cebu Pacific said it expects to serve 15 million passengers by year-end, Cebu Pacific President and CEO Lance Y. Gokongwei earlier said.

The budget carrier flew 14.35 million passengers last year, 8.3-percent higher than the 13.24 million customers recorded in 2012.

Cebu Pacific currently operates over 2,200 flights per week with 49 planes servicing 24 international and 33 Philippine destinations.

Tigerair Philippines mounts 118 flights per week with five planes flying to 11 domestic and international destinations, from bases in Metro Manila and Clark in Pampanga.

Source: Lorenz S. Marasigan

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OPINION: Clark International Airport As A Viable Entity


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Author: Jose Ma. J. Fernandez, http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/

WE have been treated recently to an ongoing see-saw battle to create a new airport to service Metro Manila and environs. Giant conglomerate San Miguel and its chief honcho Ramon Ang have been trying to invest in an airport project, perhaps spurred on by their having invested in the country’s original flag carrier, Philippine Air Lines. In a move typical of the conglomerate and its chief executive, they have zeroed in on developing the original now-defunct area where Amari and its local partner wanted to reclaim and establish a commercial area in front of Parañaque and Las Piñas. This move is premised on their being able to get the nod and attention of Department of Transportation and Communications, especially since the big boss, P-Noy, is usually inclined toward bidding out projects, including this prime undertaking of the international airport.

Militating against the intended location sought by San Miguel is the Japan International Cooperation study that examined several locations to determine the best possible place for an international airport. In this study, the other likely location near the Metro area that looked likely was Sangley, albeit not in the form it is in today. A lot of reclamation work has to be done to make the site viable. The study also indicated that a twin airport system is best for the country, much like the twin or treble airport systems that exist in many countries these days. Given the very crowded situation in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) these days, it makes sense for the other airport, namely Clark, to be a focal point for further development.

While the big boys battle it out for the location of the Metro airport—between Sangley and the San Miguel chosen area closer to the existing Naia—it is pretty clear that Naia itself will probably be closed down and commercial flights transferred to the new airport. What may remain may simply be executive and business aircraft plus some cargo operations. In this way, Naia will become yet another real-estate play, as some 60 percent of its current area will be freed up for commercial development, adding to the malls and condominiums that are fast dotting the cityscape.

Meanwhile, Clark International Airport has determined that, for the next five or so years, it will try and capture the 40 percent of Naia flyers who come from the Central and Northern Luzon areas. There remains a lack of proper marketing and consciousness programs, those that will make these potential flyers aware of Clark and the availability of flights. A typical chicken and egg situation exists. The airlines would probably detail more aircraft and create more flights if they are assured that more passengers would fly in them. This problem is being looked into right now.

The existing terminal has been expanded and is now looking spanking new, with air conditioners working as they should. New amenities are coming in, such as a new building to be constructed by a private party in front of the terminal, to house restaurants and shopping facilities that the meeters-greeters-send offs can avail themselves of instead of crowding into the current area. This building will connect through a bridgeway to the main terminal.

Meanwhile, a team commissioned by Aeroport de Paris has completed the initial phase of a new terminal that will be the starting point of a modular airport terminal that will eventually serve from 50 million to 80 million passengers. Both legacy and budget airlines will have their respective areas, but even these areas will be prepared to take on any change in traffic patterns. The modular design will allow for construction to be done as needs arise. Cargo and other facilities like Maintenance Repair & Overhaul and Fixed Base Operation will also be provided for in a separate area. The 2,300+ hectares of the Clark Aviation Complex will allow for two parallel main runways—one currently exists and is the only one that can take the Airbus 380s —and a slightly shorter dependent runway that can be used by the cargo airliners that are coming back to Clark and the remaining military and civilian rescue and logistical operations that need space and a large runway.

The initial phase for the proposed Terminal 2 in Clark is slated to start in the coming year, with construction of the terminal itself and the apron and other facilities likely to pave the way. Simultaneously, areas for the MROs and FBOs will be developed, much like the one that SIA has with its huge hangars that will service any plane in their fleet of Airbus 319/320s, 380s and the Boeing 777s.

Sometime in the near future, when the time is right, proposals will be entertained for the train connection between Metro and Clark/Subic. In fact, some quarters have proposed that the connections be from port to port, i.e., Batangas to Manila to Clark to Subic. Both cargo and passengers will be ferried to make the project viable.

Clark is not a dream, and is not initially dependent on a railway as many people think. But for those from the Metro area who wish to fly out of Clark, the next couple of years should see the completion of the two connector roads that will allow people from the South to travel to the North seamlessly. Thus, Alabang to Nlex should take some 30 minutes to 40 minutes, and an additional one hour for the Nlex leg to Clark. That is how long it takes to traverse Edsa on a regular day!

Presently, some bus companies have set up a regular shuttle from TriNoma to Clark and back that will allow for quicker dedicated travel.

The future of the Clark area is interesting as it takes on its destiny of an Aerotropolis, a metropolitan area built around an airport. The planned Green City that will start at about 4,000 hectares but which can be ramped up to over 40,000 hectares to 60,000 hectares promises to be a different kind of metropolis with wide boulevards, use of public mass transport like rail, biking and hiking lanes, urban forest zones, clean energy, and the banning of any polluting activity. Better yet is a nascent idea to make the Green City the administrative capital, leaving branches of the main government offices in Metro.

So, anyone who thinks the Clark International Airport has no future better think again.

Cebu Pacific Studying Europe, US West Coast Destinations


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BUDGET CARRIER Cebu Pacific Air said it is considering potential new destinations in Europe and the West Coast of the United States and evaluating new aircraft capable of servicing those routes.

“At this time, we’re still in the feasibility study stage. We’re getting basic data from all aircraft manufacturers to assess whether there’s a business case to fly in EU (European Union) and West Coast United States,” according to Lance Y. Gokongwei, president and chief executive officer of the carrier’s parent Cebu Air, Inc.Speaking on the sidelines of the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Pasig City late Thursday, Mr. Gokongwei said: “We’re constantly evaluating our fleet plans, so if we were to do EU (European Union) and West Coast United States, we need a new aircraft.”

Mr. Gokongwei added that the carrier is constantly evaluating its fleet plans and talking with all manufacturers including Airbus and Boeing, saying “if we were to fly there, we will need a new aircraft.”

Cebu Pacific Air currently has 50 aircraft, and is has pending orders for 11 Airbus A320 single-aisle aircraft, plus 30 slightly larger A321 models under the new engine option (NEO) plan, as well as two twin-aisle A330s for operating lease. It is due to end its leases on eight A320s amid a move to the more-efficient A321 NEO.

This year, the carrier will take delivery of five Airbus A320s and three A330s and will return four leased A320s.

Cebu Pacific has increased seat capacity in markets such as Malaysia, Singapore, China and Japan.

“I think the market is going towards a larger fleet. Slots are limited so we went from A320 to A321,” Mr. Gokongwei explained. The A320 has 150-180 seats while the A321 has 185-220.

Asked if it is seeking more seat entitlements to other destinations, Cebu Air, Inc. General Manager Alejandro B. Reyes said that the company has requested the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to prioritize air talks with Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia.

“We feel that there’s really a lot of potential in those countries, especially in Hong Kong and Australia,” Mr. Reyes said.

“Currently Hong Kong has 15,000 seats available for Philippine carriers, so we’d like to see a substantial increase. There hasn’t been a capacity increase in about six years between the two,” Mr. Reyes said.

CAB Executive Director Carmelo L. Arcilla told BusinessWorld early this month that it is targeting air talks with Indonesia, Hong Kong and Taiwan in the second semester of the year.

This year, the Philippines has so far concluded successful air talks with Canada, Myanmar, New Zealand, Singapore and France. The country will hold air service talks with South Africa on July 9-10.

Dubai, Australia and Kuwait are currently Cebu Pacific’s long-haul destinations. Its foreign operations are largely focused on East Asian markets.

As part of a strategic alliance, Cebu Air, Inc. agreed in February to acquire 100% of Tigerair Philippines, including a 40% stake of Tiger Airways Holdings Ltd.

Cebu Air, Inc. closed at ₱56.55 on Friday, down 45 centavos or 0.79% from June 26’s ₱57.

Source:  Chrisee Jalyssa V. Dela Paz, BusinessWorld Online

Solaire Resort and Casino Unveils Its New Plane Livery


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Solaire Resort and Casino, the Philippines’ premier integrated resort, unveils a breakthrough branding project in the Philippines in partnership with Air Asia.

Solaire again raises the bar as it wraps its brightly colored livery on Air Asia’s Airbus A320, which is scheduled to embark on its maiden flight this July. Solaire is the first consumer brand in the country to fully wrap and brand a commercial airline, with an underlying thrust of further promoting tourism in the Philippines and in greater Asia.

This dynamic collaboration between Solaire and Air Asia represents another step forward in an on-going journey towards providing modern travel and leisure experiences for its customers, with a fresh new approach to their target market. This partnership will facilitate more passenger and cargo traffic in both regional and domestic flights, and foster stronger trade, cultural and tourism ties within Asia.

“This milestone is a key undertaking between two passionate brands with entrepreneurial and dynamic mindsets. This unprecedented branding project in the Philippines may be taken as a ‘leadership statement’ which attests to Solaire’s strong growth momentum in the industry. Yes we are again raising the bar; this time we’re taking it to the skies,” said Solaire Resort and Casino board director Donato Almeda.

Currently, Solaire’s brand colors are donned by just one airplane, but nothing is stopping them from further rolling out this innovative wrap on additional aircraft in the future with broader partnership arrangements. The campaign will continue until 2016 and it is envisioned that this high-impact ad in the sky will generate more hype and publicity as the partnership progresses.

“This aircraft branding campaign is a strategic branding initiative which would allow us to literally take our brand to greater heights,” said Solaire vice president of Brand & Marketing Jasper Evangelista. “We have created amazing moments for our customers since Solaire launched last year, and now we’re aiming to further connect with our local and foreign guests and travelers by reinforcing our brand presence in the country’s airports. Sky Solaire will enable us to get immediate traction on this effort and even take it to a level all its own.”

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In line with Solaire’s “Create Your Moments” campaign, which highlights Solaire as the perfect place to create unforgettable memories, this fitting partnership with AirAsia, one of Asia’s leading and multi-awarded airlines in their category, harmoniously evokes the key thrusts of customer service, hospitality, and excitement for both their industries. This marketing initiative is also primed to open up new revenue streams for both the integrated resort and the airline carrier.

“AirAsia Philippines is a sociable and innovative brand,” AirAsia Philippines chairman Maan Hontiveros said. “We also take pride in our collaborative nature. This new livery demonstrates our creative approach to partnerships and marketing opportunities especially with companies that support our vision to grow tourism. We are thrilled to carry Solaire’s brand in the sky and on the ground at the airports here and abroad, extending to as far as our destinations in Malaysia, China and Korea.”

The Solaire experience is stamped with an unparalleled brand of service style, world-renowned Philippine hospitality, top-of-class luxurious accommodations, diverse dining options and impressive gaming facilities, which have all contributed to the way people view resort casinos in Manila. Many have opted to extend their stay at the resort, to have simply grown to embrace the aspirational and stress-free lifestyle offered to them at Solaire. Solaire Resort and Casino clearly offers the utmost experience of comfort, elegance and luxury in the Philippines right now.

Press Release from Solaire Resort and Casino

Cebu Pacific Mulls Fleet Expansion


5J flies to Kuwait (September 2) and Sydney (September 9).
Will Cebu Pacific order Boeing 777-300 for US/EU flights?

LIMITED slots at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) have prompted Cebu Pacific to consider shifting its flight operations using larger planes.

The plan to acquire aircraft with larger capacity came on the heels of the budget carrier’s expansion of its long-haul routes.

Cebu Pacific President and CEO Lance Y. Gokongwei said his airline will be conducting a feasibility study to review the firm’s 50-strong fleet.

“We’re constantly evaluating our fleet plan. At this time, we’re still on our feasibility study. We’re getting basic data from manufacturers and are evaluating the business case,” he said in a chance interview.

“I think the market is going towards larger planes, because the slots are limited. We are still studying if we could shift from using Airbus A320s to A321. We have to make maximum use of limited slots.”

Airbus 321
Airbus 321

Airbus A320 has an average passenger seating capacity of 180 seats, and Cebu Pacific is planning to configure brand-new A321neo fleet with 220 seats in a single-class layout.

The businessman said that his firm is planning to expand its operations to Europe and the United States, pending the acquisition of bigger aircraft that could handle larger volumes of passengers.

“We are in constant contact with all manufacturers such as Airbus, Boeing and even smaller industry players,” Gokongwei noted.

In April the Federal Aviation Administration upgraded the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines to Category 1 status, allowing airlines from the Philippines to expand and mount additional flights to the United States. It has been downgraded to Category 2 since 2008 because it did not fully satisfied international safety standards.

In the same month, the European Union has also lifted the ban on Cebu Pacific, allowing the budget carrier to soar to the 28-state members. The Union has blacklisted Philippine carriers since it contested the safety concerns, which include low salaries of highly technical personnel.

The firm is set to increase its capacity to service customers as it is scheduled to receive its third Airbus A330 aircraft in August, bringing the carrier’s wide-body aircraft to five. These are mostly used for its long-haul operations.

The firm currently operates 50 aircraft, and between 2014 and 2021, the airline will take delivery of 11 more brand-new Airbus A320, 30 A321neo and two A330 aircraft.

Aside from better aircraft, the Gokongwei-led carrier has also vied for increased seat entitlements in Hong Kong and Australia flights as it is also asking prioritization to Civil Aeronautics Board, said Cebu Pacific General Manager of Long Haul Division Alex B. Reyes.

“We would like to see some substantial increase in the Hong Kong entitlements. There hasn’t been a capacity increase in like six years, Manila and Hong Kong. So we would like to see a substantial increase,” he added.

Cebu Pacific currently operates over 2,200 flights per week with 50 planes flying to 24 international and 33 Philippine cities.

The airline’s hubs are in Metro Manila, Cebu and Clark in Pampanga.

Source: Brenda C. Grifon

AirAsia PH, AirAsia Zest Eye Myanmar Flights


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MANILA, Philippines – AirAsia Philippines, as well as its unit AirAsia Zest, are looking to start flights to Myanmar as part of route expansions.

AirAsia Philippines is seeking entitlements of 1,260 seats between Manila and Yangon, according to its application with the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB). AirAsia Zest is seeking allocation of entitlements for 7 weekly fights between Manila and Yangon.

Earlier, budget airline Cebu Pacific and unit Tiger Airways Philippines sought the approval of CAB to mount flights to Myanmar. Cebu Pacific’s application seeks 1,260 weekly seats for flights between Manila and Yangon, while Tigerair Philippines also filed a separate application with the CAB seeking 1,260 weekly seats for the Manila-Yangon route.

CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla earlier said the Philippines and Myanmar signed a new air pact, updating an older agreement from 1979.

The agreement would allow the designated airlines of each country a total of 3,780 seats per week – about 3 flights per day – for each country between Manila and points in Myanmar. The Philippines and Myanmar also agreed on unlimited traffic rights between all points in the Philippines, except Manila, and all points in Myanmar.

“Myanmar is a rapidly growing economy of about 60 million people, with a potential for the development of direct connectivity with the Philippines,” Arcilla said. – Rappler.com

Panglao-Bohol Airport: 5 Groups Bid for the Airport Project


MANILA, Philippines – Five groups are vying for the P4.8-billion (US$109 milion) Bohol Airport construction and sustainable environment protection project, based on documents from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

According to General Bid Bulletin No 13 – 2014, issued by DOTC undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla, the prospective bidders – who already submitted their technical proposals – are the following:

the tandem of Maeda and Toyo Corporation

the joint venture of Taisei Corporation and JATCO

Shimizu Corporation

the partnership of Sumitomo Corporation and Mitsui Construction Company Ltd.

the joint venture of Chiyoda and Mitsubishi Corporation

The DOTC said the project involves building a new airport in the municipality of Panglao in Bohol. This airport will replace the existing Tagbilaran airport. The DOTC said the project would have 6 components and would be funded through a concessional loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

The first component covers the general requirements. These include insurance, employer’s and engineer’s facilities, environment management, and project and maintenance equipment. The second component involves building of access roads and airport infrastructure, including the runway strip, runway taxiways, and others.

The third component covers utility works, including the water supply, power supply, and sewage treatment. The fourth component covers the passenger terminal building, control tower, fire station, driver’s lounge, car parks, toilet, guard houses, and others.

The project’s fifth component is the air navigation facilities while the sixth component is the aeronautical ground lighting works.

The bidding for this project is limited to Japanese nationals in the case of the prime contractor, allowing for other nationalities in case of the sub-contractors. Should the prime contractor be a joint venture, the DOTC noted that the prime contractor should be Japanese and that they should contribute more than 50% of the total contract amount.

The DOTC added the bidding would be conducted through a single-stage two-envelope procedure with no prequalification, in accordance with the applicable guidelines for procurement under Japanese official development assistance loans.

To qualify, a bidder should submit its audited balance sheets or financial statements showing that its net worth calculated as the difference between total assets and liabilities should have been positive for the last 5 years.

Bidders should also have a minimum average annual construction turnover of 8 billion yen (US$78 million) and its joint venture partners should have been a subcontractor or management contractor for at least 10 years. – Rappler.com

DOTC Taps Independent Consultant for P17-B Mactan Airport Expansion


MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is spending P122.6 million ($2.8 million) to tap an independent consultant for the P17.5 billion ($399.47 million) Mactan-Cebu international airport expansion project.

An independent consultant is essential in all government infrastructure projects, DOTC spokesperson Michael Arthur Sagcal said.

“It will act as government’s engineer and representative in monitoring the project’s progress and ensuring compliance by the concessionaire with its obligations,” Sagcal said in a text message, Friday, June 20.

In a Request for Expression of Interest, DOTC is set to procure an independent consultant for the public-private partnership (PPP) project that was awarded to the tandem of Megawide Construction Corp. and Bangalore-based GMR Group.

Interested consultants were given until Monday, July 21, to submit their eligibility documents to the DOTC Bids and Awards Committee (BAC).

Bidding Criteria

The agency’s BAC would draw up the short list of consultants from the submissions made and have been determined as eligible in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

Criteria for the short listing of 5 bidders include 45% for applicable experience; 45% for the qualification of key personnel; and 10% for current workload.

The Winning Bidder

DOTC issued a Notice of Award to the GMR-Megawide tandem in April. The project aims to modernize the country’s second largest aviation hub by constructing a new international passenger terminal building and by expanding its existing passenger terminal.

The existing terminal building has a capacity of 4.5 million and has been operating at over-capacity with 6.7 million passengers since 2012.

The Megawide-GMR tandem submitted in December 2013 the highest bid of P14.404 billion ($328.63 million) for the project, followed by the Filinvest-CAI Consortium, which submitted P13.999 billion ($319.39 million) as bid. (READ: Megawide-led consortium submits highest bid for Mactan airport).

Filinvest, however, asked the DOTC in January to disqualify the top bidder for alleged conflict of interest involving GMR Infrastructure of India, First Philippine Airports Consortium, and the Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB).

In February, Senator Sergio “Serge” Osmeña III supported the disqualification by revealing GMR’s ties with Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide (Fraport), the operator partner and majority beneficial owner of Piatco (Philippine International Air Terminals Company Incorporated), the consortium in the NAIA 3 debacle. (READ: Cebu airport winning bidder another Piatco?)

The Megawide-GMR tandem has repeatedly denied the alleged conflict of interest. The same tandem has earmarked at least P20 billion ($456.31 million) for the project. – Rappler.com

Cheapest Airlines Found In Asia


World's Cheapest Airlines
World’s Cheapest Airlines

No-frills airline Firefly out of Malaysia has emerged as the cheapest carrier in the world, according to number crunchers at a flight comparison site.

After averaging the cost of one-way ticket prices operated by low-budget airlines around the world, Whichairline.com has deduced that the cheapest airlines are located primarily in Asia, with Firefly taking the top spot for offering one-way flights that average as low as €30 — including checked baggage fees.

Firefly is followed by India’s SpiceJet, where average one-way fares go for €52 and Onur Air in Istanbul, where flights average €56.

Popular low-budget airline AirAsia out of Malaysia, meanwhile, comes fourth on the list.

Likewise, though Ryanair is widely considered to be the cheapest carrier in Europe, five other airlines bested the Irish-based carrier.

The cheapest carrier in Europe is Pegasus Airlines, where the average price per route, checked baggage fee included, comes out to about €65.

The Istanbul-based airline is followed by Air Lituanica (Lithuania), Vueling, germanwings, Wizz Air and then Ryanair.

After Asian, Indian, European and African carriers, Southwest Airlines is the first North American carrier to break the list, appearing at position 24.

Here are the top 10 cheapest airlines, including checked fees for a 20 kg bag:

1. Firefly, Malaysia
2. SpiceJet, India
3. Onur Air, Turkey
4. AirAsia, Malaysia
5. FastJet, Africa
6. Atlasjet, Turkey
7. Pegasus Airlines, Turkey
8. IndiGo Air, India
9. tigerair, Singapore
10. VivaAerobus, Mexico

Source: AFP, Yahoo News

LTP Hangar, Manila, Philippines


Lufthansa Technik Philippines
Image Source: Adrian Thompson, http://www.airliners.net

“Does Philippine Airlines have too many planes with so many wide bodies sitting around the maintenance area at the one time? I’m certainly not complaining. I can count 4 A333, 3 A343, 2 B773, 1 B744 & 2 A320. I don’t think I noticed the Air France A380 at the time I took the photo. It’s actually a quiet time around midday; most of these wide bodies will be in the air again by evening time. Shot from Cebu Pacific A320 RP-C3243 flight 5J553 on a runway 13 climb out with destination Cebu.”