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
Cebu Pacific, the country’s biggest budget airline, is planning to start flights to Australia in the third quarter and Saudi Arabia before the end of 2014 as part of a strategy to expand its long-haul business, CEO Lance Gokongwei said Tuesday.
Gokongwei said flights to Australia, in particular, would proceed despite the reported oversupply in seat capacity coming from Southeast Asia.
Carriers like Singapore Airlines and Qantas have already started to “down-gauge” services, consultancy firm CAPA Center of Aviation said in its May 20 report.
Gokongwei said Cebu Pacific was banking on increased tourists arrivals, as well as the Filipino-Australian community, which he estimated at 250,000 people.
“Our philosophy has always been the same. We try to expand markets by offering lower fares,” Gokongwei said at the sidelines of the 10th Asean Finance Ministers’ Investor Seminar yesterday.
Gokongwei declined to cite specific cities in Australia that Cebu Pacific was targeting given that certain regulatory approvals were still needed.
“We hope to make announcement in the next month or so. Then we start selling two to three months forward,” Gokongwei said. “Hopefully, [we can fly to Australia] before the end of the third quarter.”
He added that Cebu Pacific will start flights to Saudi Arabia in the second half. The carrier already launched flights to Dubai in October last year.
Long-haul services are forming a key part of the company’s business as it expands its fleet of long-range planes.
Cebu Pacific said in a separate statement that it took delivery of the second of three Airbus A330 aircraft it is scheduled to receive this year. The airline is due to take delivery of an additional Airbus A330 in August 2014.
By end of 2014, the airline will be utilizing five wide-body Airbus A330 aircraft for its long-haul operations.
With this delivery, the budget carrier now operates a fleet of 52 aircraft comprising 10 Airbus A319, 30 Airbus A320, four Airbus A330 and eight ATR-72-500 aircraft.
Between 2014 and 2021, Cebu Pacific will take delivery of 11 more Airbus A320, 30 Airbus A321neo and Airbus A330 aircraft.
F-WWKL (cn 1467) soon to be RP-C 8784