Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Seair sets 5-yr fleet expansion program

Business Mirror
SOUTH EAST Asian Airlines Inc. (Seair) is expanding its fleet by 10 more aircraft in the next five years, serving more routes and more frequencies.

“We are going to add more aircraft, maybe 10, in the next five years,” said Seair president Avelino Zapanta. The airline flies to Boracay, Batanes, Tablas (Romblon), Clark and Cebu. It also serves three international routes—Hong Kong, Singapore and Macau from the Clark hub.

Zapanta said the new fleet will be composed of Airbus A320s. The first two units are arriving in February and March and will serve the Cebu and Davao routes.  Funding for the new fleet, he said, is still being planned by the airline. 

“The new jets will continue to serve existing routes and maybe add more frequencies and new routes in the near future as we expand. We were recently granted air rights to fly to Kuala Lumpur,” added the Seair official.

The airline wants to be known as the only low-cost carrier with a fleet composed solely of Airbus A320s. A newly formed affiliate, Seair International, will take over the turboprop operation of Seair Inc. which has several Dornier 328s.

“Seair Inc. currently has dual operations—serving both as a leisure airline and a low-cost airline. While Seair International is waiting for the airline operating carrier permit from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Seair Inc. will continue with its dual role. When the permit is granted, Seair Inc. will serve as a low-cost airline while Seair International will be the leisure airline,” said Zapanta. 

Seair Inc. is being managed by its new owners. Tiger Air, the budget carrier of Singapore Airlines, has signed an agreement to buy a 32.5-percent stake in Seair Inc. for $6 million. The remaining 67.5 percent is owned by “three big investors” whom Zapanta declined to identify.

Zapanta begged off from giving additional details on the identities of the new owners but sources confirmed that the Lopez family is indeed one of the group of Filipino investors that bought into Seair’s jet operation. The other two groups are reportedly from the Delgado and Consunji families, which controls DMCI Holdings, a conglomerate with interests in real estate, construction and coal mining. The Lopezes hold interests in broadcast, telecommunications, power and infrastructure companies.

Zapanta explained that Seair International will be a Filipino-owned airline. “The [previous] board of Seair will sit in to run Seair International, which will continue its legacy off serving leisure routes. It will be marketed under the Flyseair.com brand,” he explained.

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