Seair-I eyes international routes

by Lorenz S. Marasigan, BusinessMirror

Posted at Apr 16 2014 07:32 AM | Updated as of Apr 16 2014 03:32 PM

MANILA - 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 ch arger 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.