Cebu Pacific bags PNG flight entitlements

By Lenie Lectura, BusinessMirror

Posted at Oct 15 2012 07:06 AM | Updated as of Oct 15 2012 03:06 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Cebu Air Inc., operator of Cebu Pacific, secured flight entitlements to Papua New Guinea that were successfully negotiated by the Philippine air panel.

“We allocated the 300 new seat entitlements to Cebu Pacific,” said Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) executive director Carmelo Arcilla in a text message yesterday.

The budget carrier was originally seeking 540 seat entitlements.

Zest Airways Inc. also applied for 540 entitlements but was denied by the CAB given the limited seat allocation.

“There were only 300 new entitlements, in addition to the 300 already held by Philippine Airlines. Zest Air did not get seats for now because to divide to more airlines would make the seats practically unusable because there would be too little for each,” explained Arcilla.

There are no Philippine carriers that currently service flights to Papua New Guinea but with this deal the CAB is hoping that local airliners will consider this route in their expansion plans. “The demand is growing although the market is still small,” said the CAB official.

Air Niu Guniea, the flag carrier of Papua New Guinea, services Manila flights twice a week, said Arcilla.

The CAB is part of the Philippine air panel which negotiates for traffic rights with other countries. The other panel members include the departments of Transportation and Communications, Foreign Affairs, Tourism and Trade and Industry, and representatives from the airline companies.

The panel is set to hold air talks with the counterpart in Thailand on November 14 and 15.

Meanwhile, Cebu Pacific said it flew more than 195,000 passengers between the Philippines and South Korea in the first half of 2012, a 15-percent increase compared to the same period last year.

Department of Tourism reports indicate that 925,000 South Korean nationals visited the Philippines in 2011, a 25-percent increase from the previous year.

Cebu Pacific flew more than 380,000 passengers to and from South Korea, a 51-percent passenger increase compared to 2011.

The airline recently celebrated its 10th year of operations in South Korea with flights to Incheon in 2002. It now operates a total of thrice daily flights from Manila and Cebu to Incheon and a total of eight weekly flights from Manila and Cebu to Busan. Lowest year-round fares between South Korea and the Philippines start at P3,999.

“Incheon was Cebu Pacific’s second international destination. Since 2002, we have recognized how important it is to provide direct linkage between the Philippines and South Korea and have responded with more flights and routes for the benefit of business and leisure travelers,” said the airline’s vice president for marketing and distribution Candice Iyog.

In its 16th year of operations, it had flown over 65 million passengers. It provides access to the most extensive network in the Philppines, with 32 domestic and 19 international destinations.