Saturday, 7 February 2009

Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific still bullish on Northern Mindanao prospects

Geefe P. Alba
BusinessWorld Online

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — The country’s biggest domestic airlines remain bullish about their Northern Mindanao prospects this year despite the global economic downturn.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific officials said they are increasing flights to this city and have no plans of laying off workers.

Early this week, the regional office of the Labor department said Air Philippines is reducing its workers in this city, with two employees so far laid off based on official notice submitted to the agency.

Tourism industry leaders projected a lower number of visitor arrivals this year not only due to the global economic slump but also due to negative media reports about Mindanao.

Licerio F. Cruz, PAL branch manager, said the airline has actually increased flights between this city and major destinations to accommodate the growing number of inbound and outbound passengers.

"In December, we increased daily flights to four from three because of the peak traveling period," said Mr. Cruz in a brief interview.

The routes cover Manila-Cagayan de Oro and Cebu-Cagayan de Oro. "We maintained the four daily flights after the Christmas season," Mr. Cruz said.

Also, flights on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays have been increased to five.

The same optimism is shared by Cebu Pacific, which introduced budget fares three years ago.

"Our Cagayan de Oro operation has remained one of our strongest performing routes. We continue to maintain high passenger loads with our trademark low fares, convenient schedule, and new planes," said Candice A. Iyog, vice-president for marketing and distribution, said in an email to BusinessWorld.

Ms. Iyog said Cebu Pacific would also be adding flights to Cagayan de Oro City next month. "Our Manila-Cagayan de Oro flights will increase from 35 times weekly to 39 times weekly," she said.

Cebu Pacific currently operates five daily flights from Manila to this city. The budget airline also flies twice daily from this city to Cebu City.

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