Kathleen A. Martin
THE NUMBER of passengers on international flights is expected to increase more than 10% in 2011 over last year’s level amid a competitive aviation industry and strong tourism, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) said.
CAB data showed that the number of international air passengers increased 12% to 14.01 million in 2010 from 12.46 million in 2009.
Already, the country is seen to be on track with the expected full-year growth, CAB executive director Carmelo L. Arcilla told BusinessWorld in a phone interview on Friday.
“Our projection is a more than 10% growth, and so far, we’re on track,” Mr. Arcilla said.
Latest data from the CAB showed the number of passengers on international flights increased by 11% to 8.04 million in the first half of the year from 7.24 million in the same period last year.
“Our aviation industry has been continuously growing and competition has given rise to reasonable ticket prices and consistent airline expansion,” Mr. Arcilla said.
The competitive aviation industry has also encouraged air travel, boosting the tourism industry, Mr. Arcilla said.
“The [more than 10%] growth will also be on the back of a strong tourism industry,” Mr. Arcilla said.
In 2010, outgoing passengers totaled 7.08 million, up by 12% from 6.33 million in 2009.
Meanwhile, incoming passengers increased by 13% to 6.93 million from 6.13 million in the same comparative periods.
“I think we can sustain the growth from last year,” Mr. Arcilla said.
The bulk of the passengers on international flights last year was carried by flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL).
When asked if PAL’s continuing labor row will affect the expected increase in passengers on international flights, Mr. Arcilla said it would not influence the projected growth.
“The labor row started during the lean season for airlines. Moreover, when that happened, other airlines were able to absorb affected passengers,” Mr. Arcilla said.
PAL’s ground labor union protested the airline’s outsourcing plans which laid off some 2,500 ground workers.
From Sept. 28 until mid-October, the airline had to cancel international and domestic flights amid the continuing labor row.
During the first half of the year, PAL carried 2.04 million passengers on international flights, a 5% growth from the 1.95 million passengers it carried in the same period last year.
Budget carrier Cebu Pacific, on the other hand, carried 1.3 million passengers in the first half, up by 30% from 1 million passengers in the same period last year.
Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific Airways, meanwhile, carried 712,117 passengers on international flights to and from the country in the first half, a decline of 2% from carrying 725,374 passengers in the same period last year.
Singapore Airlines recorded an 8% decline to 339,116 passengers in the first half from 368,723 passengers, according to the same data.
Korean Air Lines Co., Ltd. posted a flat growth of international passengers to 291,255 from 290,641.
United Arab Emirates’ flag carrier Emirates also recorded a flat growth to 286,085 passengers from 284,980 passengers.