SEAir International & Skyjet Airlines Back On Air


THE CIVIL Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has allowed two airlines that were previously suspended on safety issues to resume their flights.

CAAP Director General William Hotchkiss lifted the suspension on the air operator certificates (AOCs) of Southeast Asian Airlines (SEAir) International Inc and Magnum Air or Skyjet Airlines Inc. after the companies aptly addressed safety concerns observed in April by a European Union (EU) aviation assessment team.

According to CAAP spokesperson Eric Apolonio, the suspension of the two airline firms’ AOCs was lifted after the aviation authority validated the corrective measures they undertook helped them meet aviation safety standards.

In a statement Apolonio said that both SEAir and Skyjet submitted their respective actions taken on safety observations enumerated by the EU assessment team.

Image Source: Wong Chi Lam, Planespotters.Net

“CAAP monitored and evaluated their compliance and found them acceptable,” Apolonio pointed out, adding that the lifting of the AOC suspension for SEAir was issued on June 5 while that of Skyjet was issued the next day.

He, however, said that while both airline firms were allowed to proceed with their operations, they were given notice that they would be “the subject of a heightened surveillance” by the CAAP.

The suspension of the two carriers’ AOCs was based on the outcome of an April 16 to 24 visit of a five-man EU safety assessment team, made up of experts from the European Commission and the European Aviation Safety Agency, which evaluated the country’s safety oversight system for air carriers and the ability of local airline firms to comply with aviation safety regulations.

In ordering the suspension of SEAir’s AOC, Hotchkiss cited a report from the EU assessment team enumerating 15 observations, from management structure, SMS, and accident prevention and flight safety program to flight data management, which posed significant safety concerns in its commercial air transport operations.

In grounding Skyjet flights, the CAAP director general cited eight safety shortcomings, including flight data monitoring and quality assurance, airworthiness and maintenance control, observed by the EU evaluation team.

Source: , Philippine Daily Inquirer

CAAP Suspends SEAIR-i, SkyJet Operations


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MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Various safety “observations” were cited by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) in suspending the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) of low-cost carrier South East Asian Airlines (SEAIR International Incorporated) and leisure airline Magnum Air (SkyJet) Incorporated effective Monday, May 18.

CAAP ordered both airlines to “cease ALL its operations effective immediately.”

The agency took SEAIR-i to task for its management structure, flight safety program, and its rules on accident prevention. For SkyJet, the reasons cited for the suspension of its operations were its flight data monitoring, as well as quality assurance airworthiness and maintenance control.

An AOR is granted to an aircraft operator allowing it to conduct charter (low or high capacity), flight training, and regular public transport purposes, among other related activities.

The observations were in reference to the report by the European Union (EU) Assessment Team that visited the country in April and looked into the safety situation in a number of Philippine airlines such as Air Asia Zest, PAL Express (formerly Air Philippines Corporation), Island Aviation Incorporated, and Tiger Airways Philippines .

In a letter addressed to Avelino Zapanta of SEAIR-i and Captain Teodoro Fojas of Magnum Air, CAAP informed the two airline officials of the suspension order of its AOCs due to various safety shortcomings on the rules and standards prescribed under the Philippine Civil Aviation Regulations (PCAR).

The letter, signed May 15 by Director General William K Hotchkiss lll, said the results of the assessment visit and investigation made by him and his office require that the safety concerns be immediately corrected by the two companies.

The suspension order takes effect Monday. CAAP said the suspension remains until SEAIR-i and Magnum Air have complied with the aviation safety standards set by CAAP.

SEAIR-i flies from Manila to Basco, Batanes; Caticlan; and Tablas Island, Romblon. Magnum Air flies from Manila to Basco and Busuanga, Palawan.

The European Union (EU) air safety assessment team is expected to announce by July if Philippine low-cost carriers will be allowed to fly to Europe. (READ: PH carriers to know by July if they can fly to Europe)

Source: Rappler.com

Why Are Korean Authorities Blocking SEAIR’s Flights To Seoul?


MANILA – South East Asian Airlines (SEAIR) International is continuing to pursue its application to operate chartered flights to Korea despite getting repeatedly rejected by South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation.

SEAIR chief operating officer Patrick Tan said the airline has been requesting approval from South Korean authorities to allow its chartered flights from Kalibo to Seoul to address “the large underserved demand for airline seats between Korea and the Philippines.”

He said that currently, the annual load factor of all local airlines between Philippines and Korea stands at 83 percent, but goes up to 95 percent during peak seasons.

“Note that any time load factors go over 75 percent, it becomes hard for a passenger to book a flight on his desired schedule. What this means to the passenger is that for most of the year, this is the case between the Philippines and Korea,” Tan told ABS-CBNnews.com.

Tan stressed the need for more flights to Korea, citing the current imbalance of use of entitlements “in favor of Korea.”

“Korea has five airlines flying between there and the Philippines, and the Philippines has only three,” he said.

These five airlines are Asiana Airlines, Air Busan, Jin Air, Jeju Air, and Korean Air.

Local carriers flying to Korea are Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific and Air Asia Philippines.

Tan said the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation of South Korea sent an official denial of the application on December 31, 2014 still on the basis of the European Union ban on airlines in the Philippines.

However, Tan argues that getting clearance from the EU is irrelevant in its request to fly to Korea.

Tan said the airline already consulted with the European Commission and was told that exemptions and clearances from the EU ban list are only given to airlines seeking to operate into one of the European member states.

The European Commission imposed a ban on Philippine carriers from entering the European airspace in 2010, but the ban was lifted in 2013, allowing PAL to mount flights to London. In April 2014, the EU lifted the ban on Cebu Pacific.

The Philippines was also removed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) from the list of countries with aviation safety concerns on March 2014.

In April 2014, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) upgraded the Philippines’ aviation safety rating to Category 1.

According to Tan, Korea’s use of the EU ban as basis in denying its request also goes against the air talks between the Philippines and Korea in 2012.

One of the amendments to 2012 agreement state that requesting airlines found compliant with the laws and regulations of Korea on safety “shall immediately be allowed to operate the agreed services.”

“This is despite our submission of opinions from the European Commission saying that the ban does not apply in our case for flights between Korea and the Philippines, and specific provisions in the MOU arising from the 2012 Philippines-Korea Bilateral Air Talks that by quoting the EU Ban as basis for denial, practically constitutes a breach of agreement,” he said.

Tan noted that the airline has sought assistance from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to intervene in its application.

“We have asked the CAB to step in and help us appeal with Korea for them to abide by the MOU of the 2012 Air Talks,” he said.

Korea is the Philippines’ largest source of tourists with more than 958,289 visitors or 24.23 percent of total share visiting the Philippines from January to October last year. Many Korean tourists usually flock to Boracay and Cebu for the beaches.

Source: Jon Carlos Rodriguez, ABS-CBNnews.com

Seair International Eyes Taiwan, Japan and China


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SEAIR

HOMEGROWN carrier South East Asian Airlines International Inc. (Seair-I) expects to serve the international market next quarter as it expands its fleet through lease agreements.

Seair-I President Avelino L. Zapanta said the leisure carrier plans to fly to Taiwan, China and Japan this year, an aggressive expansion from its maiden scheduled domestic flight today.

“We are in talks with airline operators for possible charters to serve Taiwan, Shanghai and, hopefully in the mid-term, operate in Japan,” he said in an interview.

The airline now awaits regulatory approval from the Civil Aeronautics Board to operate chartered flights to Taipei.

To service the routes, Zapanta said his firm is investing about $100,000 per month in lease payments for an Airbus A320.

“Our plan is lease one or two aircraft, [maybe] an Airbus A320, for the Shanghai charter,” he said.

Seair-I started servicing on Tuesday the Clark-Caticlan-Puerto Princesa route, making the carrier the sole operator of the routes. The Clark-Caticlan route will operate five times a week, while the Caticlan-Puerto Princesa route will fly thrice weekly.

Demand, Zapanta said, should shoot up by as much as 400 percent given the summer season.

The firm has been offering passenger charter flights to corporate clients in destinations such as Balesin, Palawan, Boracay and Vigan since 2012.

Zapanta said Seair-I will complement air services with interlining agreement instead of directly competing with airlines working on established routes.

“We will negotiate traffic feeds to and from Qatar Airways, Asiana Airlines, Jin Air and Dragonair in Clark,” the official said. “We are looking to expand interline agreements with other airlines that are interested in expanding their reach through Clark. We will be capitalizing on our many years of experience in the industry, our brand recall and our network of loyal customers and travel agents.”

Seair-I was formed in 2012 after South East Asian Airlines Inc. was sold to Tigerair Philippines. In turn Tigerair Philippines, which kept the company’s corporate name, was bought by Cebu Air Inc. in March for $15 million.

The leisure carrier will operate the Clark-Caticlan-Puerto Princesa route using two 32-seater Dornier 328 planes.

The airline is looking at servicing more routes such as Bantayan, Masbate, Marinduque, Camiguin and Guiuan.

 

Source: Lorenz S. Marasigan, http://www.businessmirror.com.ph

 

Why Seair International Is Making Clark International Airport Its Base


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Dornier 328 of SEAIR

MANILA, Philippines – South East Asian Airlines International (Seair-I) announced on Tuesday that it will resume flying to Boracay and Palawan via Clark International Airport under its new name and new airline code XO starting April 16.

Seair-I flights to Caticlan via Clark will fly five times a week while Caticlan to Puerto Princesa will fly three times a week.

Flight schedules are still pending approval from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB).

Seair-I will be the only operator for these routes, with promo fares starting at P2,085.

“We’re back at where we are good at and it is at providing air services to the exotic destinations of the country,” Seair-I president Avelino Zapanta told reporters at a press briefing in Makati.

Zapanta said Seair-I aims to reestablish itself as the country’s top leisure airline for local and international tourists.

Seair-I will operate scheduled flights from Clark, while retaining only chartered flights from Manila.

“We plan to operate in Clark and make it our base of operation because we would like to improve the interlining engagement that we have started with airlines operating in and out Clark,” said Zapanta.

These airlines include Qatar Airways, Asiana Airlines, and Dragonair.

“We have touched base with them already and we are looking at the connectivity of the flights,” Zapanta added.

Seair-I chief operating officer Patrick Tan, meanwhile, noted that flights out of Clark will benefit travelers those living north of Manila.

“Clark to Caticlan is targeted at the population of north of Manila up to Baguio and further because it will be the easiest way for them to get to Boracay without having to enter Metro Manila. Even for those living in Valenzuela and Quezon City, Clark is a good alternative especially with the coming traffic jams with the EDSA upgrading,” he said.

Seair-I will operate a 32-seater Dornier 328 plane for its Clark-Caticlan-Puerto Princesa route.

Zapanta said Seair-I is looking to acquire more planes and more routes to tourist spots like Bantayan, Masbate, Marinduque, Camiguin, and Guiuan.

The airline is also planning to launch chartered flights to Taiwan and China, and eventually to Japan.

Seair-I was formed as a low cost carrier in 2012 after Southeast Asian Airlines Inc. (Seair) was sold to Singapore’s Tiger Airways.

Cebu Pacific then entered a strategic alliance with Tiger Airways that led to the 100 percent acquisition of Tigerair Philippines.

The agreement with Cebu Pacific and Tigerair allows Seair-I to retain its logo and corporate identity.

Source: Jon Carlos Rodriguez, ABS-CBNnews.com

Boracay Gets Flight Boost From New Airlines


Source: Marianne Carandang, TTG Asia

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THE popular beach destination of Boracay will get better air access with the upcoming launch of Manila-Caticlan services by two new airlines – Skyjet and Seair International.

Seair I (read as Seair one), will start Caticlan services beginning November though an exact date has not yet been announced, according to Patrick Tan, Seair I’s COO.

Said Tan: “We will be using our Dornier 328s, and it will be a luxury service – with a VIP lounge and check-in service from the lounge, so (guests won’t) have to check in at the counter.”

He added that the airline’s 35-minute service would be the fastest flight to Boracay.

Meanwhile, Seair I plans to set up a hub in Puerto Princesa, Palawan to cater to inter-Palawan flights. Although Tan declined to share more, he and Avelino Zapanta, Seair I president and CEO, have suggested in previous reports that these would include El Nido, Taytay and Cuyo links.

Seair I has no ties to Seair, now rebranded as Tigerair Philippines (TTG Asia e-Daily, July 18, 2013), and was launched in July 2012 to serve missionary routes such as Batanes and Palawan, routes formerly served by Seair.

Likewise, new domestic airline Skyjet will commence operations to Caticlan later this year. The carrier, launched in February this year, currently operates thrice weekly flights to eco-cultural destinations, Batanes, Busuanga, Virac and Surigao.

Joel Mendoza, president and CEO, Skyjet and director, Batanes Cultural Travel Agency, said: “I want to replicate the success (we had in promoting) Batanes to other far-flung destinations.”

Skyjet operates two 94-seater British Aerospace BAe 146-200 jets, which Mendoza claims are “the safest aircraft for commuter regional flights…specifically built to run and land on short runways”.