Seair takes 'more fun' to the skies

By Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo, BusinessMirror

Posted at Aug 14 2012 07:15 AM | Updated as of Aug 14 2012 06:18 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Not only is it more fun in the Philippines, but apparently, it’s also more fun to fly one local carrier, as well.

Two Airbus A320-232s of Southeast Asian Airlines are now sporting the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” slogan, an initiative of the carrier to help promote the country as a key destination in Asia.

Seair flight DG7792 (registered as RP-C6320) taxis towards the Budget Terminal of the Changi International Airport in Singapore, after arriving from Clark, Pampanga. This is one of the two Airbus A320-232s which sports the Philippines' new tourism slogan "It's more fun in the Philippines." / Photo courtesy Andre Giam/Jetphotos.net

A photo of one of the planes repainted with the slogan and taxiing on the runway of the Changi International Airport in Singapore has been making the rounds of the Internet via the Facebook account of Tourism Paradise Philippines, a local travel guide web site.

Nicos Gitsis, Seair co-founder and incumbent vice chairman of the board, confirmed to the BusinessMirror the new livery on the carrier’s planes. “Two of our new Airbus A320s assigned to the international routes [are sporting the slogan]. Those two are doing the Singapore-Hong Kong-Bangkok-Kota Kinabalu routes [from Clark International Airport in Pampanga].”

Gitsis even reposted the “fun” plane photo on his Facebook wall on August 7, 2012, captioning it thus, “Seair is [a] pioneer in many ways—This is another first for us!” He disclosed that he hasn’t actually seen the planes yet because they’re in Clark. The A320s were leased from Tiger Airways Inc., which had purchased a 32.5-percent stake in Seair in February 2011 for $6 million. The Singapore-based low-cost carrier plans to raise its stake in Seair to 40 percent, paying up an additional $7 million for the additional shares. (See, “Tiger Airways eyes bigger pie of local carrier Seair,” in the BusinessMirror, April 18, 2012.)

“It’s been 17 years in the making,” said Gitsis about the carrier’s “long amazing struggle” in the local aviation industry. “But when I saw that pic [of the repainted plane], it all makes sense.” Established in 1995, Seair is a pioneer in the local airline industry, one of the first to fly to Caticlan, Aklan, the gateway to Boracay Island, and other missionary routes that had been earlier abandoned by Philippine Airlines.

For his part, Tourism Assistant Secretary Eugene Kaw disclosed it was Seair “which came up with the idea [of using the slogan for its plane], and approached us.”

He said the Seair team met with DOT officials regarding the proposed use of the slogan “some three to four weeks ago…. They’re going to do it for free and DOT agreed, on a non-exclusive basis.”

By “non-exclusive,” this means other local carriers such as PAL, Cebu Pacific, and Zest Airways can use the slogan on their respective planes as well, if they also make a request to the tourism agency.

Kaw explained that Seair “shouldered the cost of the painting. No charge to DOT also for the placement,” adding that “it will be for an international flight as per our discussion. ”

He added that Seair had actually planned to use the old DOT slogan hatched under the term of former Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim, but this was eventually scrapped after the slogan was ditched following massive outcry from tourism stakeholders. “They’ve [Seair] allotted the space for it since ‘Pilipinas Kay Ganda’, but got deferred,” Kaw disclosed.

Meanwhile, the photo of the Seair plane sporting the “fun” slogan used by Tourism Paradise and Gitsis was taken from Jetphotos.net, a photo web site dedicated to aviation enthusiasts. The plane photo was captured by Andre Giam, a member of the Ninervictor Spotting Group, a group of aviation enthusiasts in Singapore.

In his caption of the plane photo posted on Jetphotos.net on August 5, 2012, Giam said: “DG7792 taxiing toward the [Changi] Budget Terminal after arriving from Clark. Seair, based in the Philippines, operates a once-daily flight between Clark and Singapore. This aircraft was delivered to the airline just over a month ago (leased from Singapore based carrier—Tiger Airways). First photo of Seair’s A320 in the database. Last but not least, this particular aircraft carries a special quote in order to promote Philippines as a ‘better’ holiday destination among the Southeast Asian countries, which says ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines.’”

As per the photo, the plane sports a registration number of RP-C6320, with Serial Number CN 5194.

With its strategic partnership with Tiger Airways, Seair is currently expanding its network domestically and internationally. It recently acquired, via lease, from Tiger two A319-200s and three A320-232s. The carrier is targeting to fly 2 million passengers to its international destinations this year.