Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Airport authority, industry groups note higher holiday passenger traffic

A. B. Nepomuceno

DOMESTIC AIRLINE passenger traffic rose by a faster 20% during the Christmas and New Year holidays, driven by lower airfare and increased frequency of flights, according to the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA).

The preliminary figure for holiday airline travel for 2009 was faster than the 15% growth recorded during the 2008 holidays, the MIAA chief said.

Driven by promos

"Passenger traffic during the holiday season was higher than last year. For domestic travel, I think there was a 20% increment in the number of Filipinos who traveled during the holiday season," MIAA General Manager Alfonso G. Cusi said in an interview.

"Promos of different airlines undoubtedly have affected the appetite of Filipinos to travel," he added.

He pointed out, however, that estimates for international airline passenger traffic have yet to be drawn up.

Aside from lower seat rates for domestic airline travel, "another factor is the increase in number of flights of airlines which accommodated more passengers," Mr. Cusi explained.

Major carriers, Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines could not be reached yesterday to confirm his observations.

Sea-borne travel

Aboitiz Transport System Corp’s Superferry, the country’s largest interisland water transport operator, noted increased passenger traffic despite a government order to ground most of its fleet.

"As expected, our ships were full-bound [sic] starting Dec. 16; this is the same scenario as last year," Superferry assistant vice-president for sales and marketing Andrew D. Deyto said in a text message yesterday.

"The only difference is that we had two ships on dry dock this year."

The government had ordered the grounding of much of Aboitiz Transport’s fleet in September last year in order to give way to an investigation of the sinking of Superferry 9 and an audit of all other vessels.

The Maritime Industry Authority has already allowed seven Superferry vessels that passed inspections to accept passengers and cargo.

Less packaged tours

Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) President Ma. Paz R. Alberto, however, noted fewer take-up of packaged tours this year.

"Though flights were very full this holiday season, I can still say that there was a slight decrease in traveling Filipinos that availed packages, meaning air fare plus board and lodging," Ms. Alberto said in a phone interview yesterday.

This decrease, which she did not elaborate on, may be attributed to the seasonal increase in prices of accommodations.

"Resorts as well as hotels are charging much higher than their usual rates," she explained. -- D.

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