Foreign Airlines Touch Down In The Philippines

ACCESSIBILITY to the Philippines, a longstanding challenge for tourism, is improving markedly owing to the unprecedented increase in foreign airlines flying into the country and new routes blazed this year.

Erwin Balane, head of the department of tourism’s route development team, told TTG Asia e-Daily: “The number of seats that we have already added is by the hundreds of thousands a year, which also means additional visitor traffic to the Philippines.”

According to Balane, foreign airlines coming in this year include Ethiopian Airlines’ thrice-weekly Addis Ababa-Manila service starting June 27; HK Express’ Hong Kong-Kalibo (Boracay) and Hong Kong-Cebu services, both twice-weekly with dates to be announced; and Garuda Indonesia’s Jakarta-Manila service four times a week, starting August 2.

Local carriers will also launch new routes: Philippine Airlines’ (PAL) thrice-weekly Manila-Jinjiang, China service from April 25; PAL’s twice-weekly Manila-Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea from June; and Cebu Pacific Air’s (CEB) twice-weekly Manila-Doha service beginning June 4.

This year, PAL also began flying to New York while CEB launched services to Hong Kong from Kalibo and to Tokyo (Narita) from Cebu.

Stressing the importance of air access in bringing the tourists, Balane said the Philippines is eyeing more links to Asia, including China, South Korea and Singapore.

His team is also working towards direct flights from Asia to secondary destinations such as Davao, Cebu and Boracay, since Manila’s airport is already congested for faster and more competitive travel.

Source: Rosa Ocampo,

Cebu Pacific Soars With International Success

imagesMANILA – The Philippines’ largest airline on Thursday reported a 67-percent rise in profits last year, with strong growth in domestic passenger numbers and swift success on a new Australia route.

Cebu Pacific posted a net profit of 853 million pesos ($19 million) in 2014, up from 512 million pesos in 2013.

The country’s pioneer budget airline flew 16.9 million people last year, as passenger traffic grew 17.5 percent, it said in a statement.

Cebu Pacific’s Manila-Sydney route had 30 percent of the market by the end of last year, after launching just three months earlier, chief executive advisor Garry Kingshott told reporters in a conference call.

Kingshott also said he expected growth on routes to Dubai and Kuwait, which were opened in the fourth quarter of 2014.

“We’ve seen positive uptake in the first quarter with fairly solid bookings for the March to April period… my sense is that we’re over the hump on the long haul operations,” he said.

“With true price competition, we can stimulate traffic. There’s demand there that’s going to be served because of legacy carriers’ (higher) prices.”

The Manila-Dammam route, however, will be suspended from next week due to weaker-than-expected demand and aircraft will be redeployed to the Manila-Doha route, he said.

“We do need to give some of these routes sufficient time to mature,” he said, adding that they are “under constant review”.

Domestically, where Cebu Pacific has a market share of around 60 percent, Kingshott predicted growth would continue with first-quarter numbers looking “pretty solid”.

Banking on a tourism boom, the airline will increase flights to Puerto Princesa, gateway to popular white sand beaches and diving spots, and Legazpi, which is home to the spectacular Mayon volcano.

International tourist arrivals to the Philippines rose 3.25 percent to 4.8 million in 2014.

The government is on an aggressive promotional campaign to bring the number to 10 million by the time President Benigno Aquino steps down in mid-2016.

Cebu Pacific carrier said full-year profit in 2014 rose despite a 1.2-billion-peso loss in the fourth quarter, as a drop in world oil prices caused fuel hedging losses.

Cebu Pacific is owned by tycoon John Gokongwei, the Philippines’ fifth-richest man, according to Forbes Magazine. It flies to 34 domestic destinations and 28 overseas.

Source: AFP

Philippine Airlines Studying Potential A340 Replacements

Philippine Airlines Boeing 777-300

Philippine Airlines (PR, Manila) president and Chief Operating Officer Jaime Bautista says his airline is studying the A350 and the B787 as potential replacements for its fleet of A340-300s.

Bautista told the Philippine Star newspaper in an interview this week that the airline would likely phase out its six A340s by 2020.

“We are in the process of preparing a long term fleet plan for PAL. What we have finalized is for domestic and regional only but for long haul, we have yet to finalize our fleet plan,” he said. “We will change the A340 over time because they are 12-year old airplanes. Maybe over the next five years.”

The type’s retirement was expected to occur much sooner but the recent slump in global petroleum prices has eased the pressure on the jets. The A340s, which collectively average 14.3 years of age, are currently used on flights to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi and Xiamen regionally as well as London Heathrow, Los Angeles Int’l, New York JFK, San Francisco, CA, and Vancouver Int’l internationally.

The Filipino carrier’s widebody fleet also includes six B777-300(ER)s and fifteen A330-300s.


Philippine Airlines Sets $280M CAPEX

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Airlines Incorporated (PAL) is spending $280 million for its capital expenditures (capex) this year.

The amount is primarily allotted for acquiring 5 brand new Airbus aircraft.

PAL president and chief operating officer Jaime Bautista said the airline has earmarked $250 million for the acquisition of 5 Airbus A321 aircraft. The remaining $30 million is set aside for spare parts.

PAL is scheduled to take the delivery of 5 A321 aircraft this year. One of these has been delivered; another one is scheduled to arrive before end-March.

The delivery of two A321 aircraft is scheduled in April, and the last one in May.

The airline has finalized the sale and lease of the first two A321 aircraft.

Bautista said it is now talking with foreign financial institutions for the finance lease of the remaining 3 A321.

PAL is borrowing up to $250 million to finance its acquisitions, Bautista said.

Fleet plan

PAL is also looking for brand new aircraft for its long-haul operations to beef up its existing fleet of 6 Boeing 777-300ER and 6 Airbus A340-300.

“We are in the process of preparing a long-term fleet plan for PAL,” he said.

The airline is looking at the Boeing 787 or the Dreamliner as well as the Airbus A350 aircraft.

PAL is also looking at replacing its fleet of A340-300 over the next 5 years with more fuel efficient aircraft.

The PAL Group, including low cost carrier unit PAL Express, has a fleet of 75 aircraft consisting mainly of Airbus and Boeing.

The Lucio Tan Group has decided to defer the complete delivery of 38 brand new aircraft from Airbus to 2024 instead of 2020 as it is finalizing a 5-year business plan that would pave the way for the entry of a foreign strategic partner.

(READ: Clipping PAL’s ‘too many wings’)


CAAP: EU To Remove All Philippine Carriers From Blacklist

All Philippine-based air operators will be stricken off the European Union (EU) list of banned airlines in the next round of assessment by EU officials in April, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said Friday.
Such move on the part of the EU serves would to trigger a further improvement in the Philippine tourism industry, CAAP officials told reporters during a media forum in Pasay city.
Representatives of the European Commission (EC) are visiting the Philippines next month to assess the oversight capabilities of CAAP and the operations of other local airlines still on the list, said CAAP assistant director General Beda Badiola.
“Last week, we went to Brussels for a technical meeting and the results were very positive. So, sometime in April 14 to 24, they are going to send an assessment team to look into the operations of these operators,” he said.
In July 2013, flag carrier Philippine Airlines was allowed to fly to Europe three years after the EU banned Philippine carriers for failing to comply with international safety standards.
Nearly a year after that, the EC lifted the ban on the Gokongwei-led Cebu Air Inc., operator of budget airline Cebu Pacific, allowing the carrier into European airspace.

Source: , GMA News

PAL Express: Goodbye Dubai! وداعا دبي!

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Airlines will take over the Manila-Dubai route, which is currently being serviced by low cost carrier unit PAL Express.

“We (PAL) are planning to take over the Dubai route from PAL Express. We are looking at April,” Jaime Bautista, president and chief operating officer of PAL, said.

This is part of the airline’s rationalization plan, which would allow PAL to focus on international routes and PAL Express on domestic routes. The only exception is Cebu and Davao, which will still be serviced by PAL.

“We want PAL Express to concentrate on the domestic routes,” Bautista said.

PAL Express operates 24 aircraft of the PAL Group’s fleet of 74 Airbus and Boeing aircraft.


Air Asia: Piso Fare Promo

MANILA, Philippines – Following the travel passes launch in February, Malaysian-based budget carrier AirAsia now offers again its “Piso Fare” promo.

This round offers 3 million seats for grabs and over 20 countries across AirAsia Group’s route network.

With a base fare of P1 ($0.22) and no fuel surcharge, passengers only need to pay for airport taxes and fees when booking for this promotion, AirAsia said.

International destinations covered in this promo include: Kota Kinabalu; Kuala Lumpur; Macau; and Incheon (Seoul). Domestic spots include Cebu; Davao; Kalibo (Boracay); Manila; Puerto Princesa (Palawan); Tacloban: and Tagbilaran (Bohol).

From Cebu, promo fares are also available for flights to Incheon (Seoul); Kota Kinabalu; Davao; and Cagayan de Oro.

Flights from Kuala Lumpur to Bali; Bangkok; Kalibo (Boracay); Kota Kinabalu; Hong Kong, Langkawi; Melbourne; Penang; Sapporo (transit via Bangkok); Seoul; Taiwan and many others are also on promotional sale.

The promotional seats started Monday, March 23 and ends Sunday, March 29. Travel period is from September 1, 2015 to May 31, 2016.

Booking starts for as low as P201.12 ($4.49) – all-in or for 1-way travel.

Promo seats can be booked via AirAsia’s website; mobile app on iPhone and Android devices; or access the site via mobile.

Apart from the Piso Fare promo, AirAsiaGo, the budget carrier’s low cost airline, is also presenting savings up to 75% when promo seats are booked together with hotel accommodation. Savings up to 50% are also available for those who would book for hotel accommodation.

The same promo booking period and travel period applies.

AirAsia flies to 90 destinations. AirAsia Philippines also operates a fleet of 15 aircraft.

Malaysian mogul Tony Fernandes, who transformed a floundering carrier into Asia’s biggest budget airline, faced his first major crisis after an AirAsia plane went missing last year.

AirAsia Flight QZ8501 with 162 people onboard went down in stormy weather on December 28, 2014, in the Java sea during what was supposed to be a short trip from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.

Rescuers called off the hunt for the remaining passengers on March 17 this year, almost 3 months after Flight QZ8501 went down in stormy weather as it flew from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore, killing all 162 people on board.