Friday, 9 January 2009

Cebu Pacific offers new flights

Paolo Luis G. Montecillo and Romer S. Sarmiento
BusinessWorld Online

BUDGET AIRLINE Cebu Pacific will add new domestic routes as it takes delivery of its seventh brand new turbo-prop plane next month.

In a statement, the Gokongwei-owned carrier said it would fly to Catarman and Calbayog in Samar, Virac in Catanduanes, and Caua-yan, Isabela starting Feb. 18.

The airline will also increase flights from Manila to Naga from daily to 10 times weekly starting Feb. 14 and from Manila to Busuanga from daily to 11 times weekly starting Feb. 15.

"We are expanding our Manila hub operations with the arrival of our brand new ATR aircraft and will make more areas accessible through our low fares and new planes," said Candice Iyog, Cebu Pacific vice-president for marketing.

The company also announced a zero fare seat sale for its Manila-Osaka service, which excludes surcharges and government taxes.

The seat sale will run from Jan. 9 to 14, and is good for travel from Feb. 1 — the starting date of the flights — to March 31.

The company will fly the Manila-Catarman and Manila-Virac routes every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday; and Manila-Calbayog and Manila-Cauayan on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Earlier this week, Cebu Pacific cut fuel and insurance surcharges on all domestic flights, effectively lowering total ticket prices by as much as a fifth.

Meanwhile, direct flights from Cotabato City and Cebu City are set to start on Saturday, a welcome development for local businessmen and Filipinos from Maguindanao and North Cotabato provinces who will enjoy shorter travel time. Cebu Pacific will offer the Cotabato-Cebu route thrice a week.

Ricardo C. Juliano, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry governor for Central Mindanao, said the service would hopefully attract more investments in the restive south.

"This will bring convenience to our businessmen. Local investors do not just put their investments in one basket but spread these," he said, noting companies have been expanding from Metro Manila to Cebu City and other areas in the Visayas.

Prior to Cebu Pacific’s newest offer, businessmen and air commuters from Cotabato City and the provinces of North Cotabato and Maguindanao had to travel by land to either Davao or General Santos to reach Cebu City, which takes three to four hours.

Cebu Pacific and rival Philippine Airlines (PAL) offers daily flights from Cotabato to Manila.

Mr. Juliano expects PAL, through its low-cost brand PAL Express, to follow suit. "Hopefully, too, Cebu Pacific will serve the Cotabato-Cebu route on a daily basis," he added.

Cebu Pacific is also opening new flights from Cebu to Dumaguete, Legaspi and Siargao, and increasing flights from Cebu to Iloilo, Ozamis and Tacloban.

Cebu Pacific has the most number of interisland routes and connections from its hubs in Clark, Manila, Cebu and Davao. The new routes will bring its local destinations to 32.

Cebu Pacific has one of the youngest fleets in the region composed of 10 Airbus A319, nine Airbus A320 and six ATR 72-500 aircraft as of end-2008.

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