SALALAH — Budget airlines Cebu Pacific’s Muscat-Manila operation is caught in the technicality of freedom rights, as the operators are waiting for clearance of ‘5th freedom traffic rights’ to operate in the sector. The airlines management is evaluating its earlier plan, as it was hoping to start the operation in the middle of this year.
“We have been looking at ways in which ‘5th freedom traffic rights’ can be allowed. For the Manila-Muscat route, we are expecting a majority of our passengers to be Filipino — those residing in Oman and returning to the Philippines for a holiday, as well as their friends and relatives coming to visit them in Oman,” said Alex Reyes, General Manager, Cebu Pacific Air — Long Haul Division, in an email response to the Observer.
According to Alex the commercial viability of services between Oman and the Philippines would be enhanced if there are ‘5th freedom traffic rights — the right to fly between two foreign countries on a flight originating or ending in one’s own country — enabling to carry passengers beyond Muscat. “The CEB is limited by the current air services, which does not allow the exercise of such traffic rights.”
There is a whole set of internationally adopted commercial aviation rights, referred to as the ‘freedoms of the air’. These rights set out scenarios in which commercial planes would operate routes for revenue. The first two rights, the first freedom and second freedom, are the most standard and over 129 countries have adopted the treaty that allow them.From there, the freedoms of the air get progressively rarer as they require approval from multiple states. This goes all the way down to the 8th Freedom, also known as ‘cabotage’, which as an example would allow a foreign carrier to fly on domestic routes.
Budget carrier Cebu Pacific Air is seeking additional seat entitlements to Thailand and Taiwan as part of broader plans to ramp up its presence in the region, separate filings with the Civil Aeronautics Board showed last week.
Cebu Pacific, a unit of Gokongwei-led JG Summit Holdings Inc., told the CAB that it was seeking an additional 1,108 entitlements to Bangkok, Thailand. The filing was a request to reallocate existing entitlements previously awarded but currently unused by flag carrier Philippine Airlines.
Cebu Pacific, currently the country’s largest budget airline, said in another filing that it was seeking the re-allocation of 1,237 seats for the Manila to Taipei route. As with the Bangkok seats, Cebu Pacific said these were currently not being used by Philippine Airlines.
The CAB, which is seeking to hold air talks with Taiwan to increase weekly flights in the second half of 2014, said it would hold a hearing on both requests on Aug. 13. The move comes as Cebu Pacific reported an increase in passenger volume in the first half of 2014. Cebu Pacific flew 8 million passengers from January to June, or an increase of 8 percent over the same period in 2013, a statement showed.
For June alone, Cebu Pacific carried 1.3 million passengers, an increase of 9.5 percent over 1.2 million passengers flown in June last year. Cebu Pacific flights were about 85 percent full during this period, it said.
“The airline achieved notable [first half] 2014 passenger growth in several international tourism and trade markets, such as Japan, Indonesia and Taiwan contributing to foreign tourist arrivals in the country,” Cebu Pacific said.
Source: Miguel R. Camus, Philippine Daily Inquirer
CEB will be the only airline offering non-stop flights to Kuwait, which hosts more than 180,000 Filipinos workers. The new Manila-Kuwait thrice weekly service will start on September 2.
Meanwhile, CEB will fly non-stop to and from Sydney four times a week, starting on September 9. As the only low-cost carrier offering this route, CEB hopes to stimulate travel both ways with this new service. There are also over 300,000 Filipinos based in Australia.
“Our trademark low fares will allow our kababayans abroad, the Global Filipinos, to visit home more often, as we had done in other destinations before, and at the same time attract Australian tourists into our shores,” said CEB President and CEO Lance Gokongwei.
To mark its new service, CEB offers an introductory seat sale fare from June 16 to 19, 2014 or until seats last, for travel from the new route’s launch date until December 31, 2014.
CEB is offering all-in fares from Manila to Sydney, as low as P4,999. These are inclusive of the fare, fuel surcharge and other fees, but exclusive of the Philippine Travel Tax. After the seat sale, lowest year-round all-inclusive fares to Sydney start at P12,150.
During the seat sale, base fares from Manila to Kuwait are as low as P1. These are exclusive of fuel surcharge, country taxes and other fees. After the seat sale, lowest year-round base fares to Kuwait start at P4,999.
Gokongwei encouraged passengers to book these seat sale fares, since it offers up to 64% in savings, compared to the fares of other airlines.
These new routes will utilize CEB’s brand-new Airbus A330-300 aircraft with a configuration of 436 all-economy class seats. It offers fast and convenient same-terminal connecting flights for guests taking advantage of CEB’s extensive Philippine network.
Passengers also have the option to purchase baggage allowance, seat selection, CEB Air Wi-Fi connectivity inflight and Hot Meals.
Aside from Sydney and Kuwait, CEB’s long-haul division operates direct flights between Manila and Dubai.
For bookings and inquiries, guests can go to http://www.cebupacificair.com or call reservation hotlines (02)7020-888 or (032)230-8888. The latest seat sales can also be found on CEB’s official Twitter (@cebupacificair) and Facebook pages.
CEB’s 52-strong fleet is comprised of 10 Airbus A319, 30 Airbus A320, 4 Airbus A330 and 8 ATR-72 500 aircraft. It is one of the most modern aircraft fleets in the world. Between 2014 and 2021, Cebu Pacific will take delivery of 11 more brand-new Airbus A320, 30 Airbus A321neo, and 2 Airbus A330 aircraft.
MANILA, Philippines–The US Department of Transportation has cleared budget carrier Cebu Pacific Air for flights to the United States as it noted the recent restoration of the Philippines’s Category 1 air safety status, a US government notice showed.
Cebu Pacific, which is set to launch flights to Australia and Saudia Arabia this year and recently sought seat allocations to Canada, was previously barred from flying to the US after the Federal Aviation Administration downgraded the Philippines to Category 2 six years ago.
This left flag carrier Philippine Airlines, which had been operating flights from Manila to the US before the downgrade, as the only domestic airline providing the transatlantic service.
The US transportation department, which issued the notice on June 5, specifically approved the removal of a provision that Cebu Pacific only conduct operations in the US through a wet lease agreement. This type of agreement, where another airline would lease a carrier’s plane and crew, is typically used to serve locations where it is banned from operating.
The US notice stated that Cebu Pacific was originally granted the authority to fly to the US under a wet lease condition while the Philippines was rated Category 2 under the FAA’s safety assessment program, or IASA.
The Category 1 status was restored in early April following an audit that recognized the reforms conducted by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.
“The FAA has now announced that the Philippines has achieved IASA Category 1 status, and Cebu [Pacific] has accordingly sought amendment of its authority to remove the wet lease restriction,” the US Transportation Department noted. “We would note that on May 28, 2014, the FAA advised us that it knew of no reason why we should act unfavorably on the applicant’s request.”
The approval paves the way for Cebu Pacific, a unit of JG Summit Holdings Inc. of the Gokongwei family, to mount direct flights to US territories like Guam, Saipan and Hawaii, locations the airline was studying, Cebu Pacific CEO Lance Gokongwei said in a previous interview.
The permit also allows Cebu Pacific to fly to mainland US cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles but Gokongwei said these were unlikely in the near-term given the limitation of its longest-range plane, the Airbus A330. Cebu Pacific was also allowed to mount flights to Europe last April but Gokongwei said there were no near-term plans yet.
The carrier has been placing more focus on the long-haul business after launching its maiden service to Dubai late last year given the potential for higher returns in the long run.