Monday, October 5, 2015

Cebgo Becomes Domestic Turbo-Prop Carrier, Cebu Pacific Goes All-Jet

After its rebranding from Tigerair Philippines earlier this year, Cebgo, a subsidiary of Cebu Pacific, has terminated all jet operations as it transforms into a domestic turbo-prop carrier based at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 4.

Image Source: Cebu Pacific
In a report released by CH Aviation, Cebgo ceased jet operations following the return of its last remaining A320-200 aircraft. The jet registered, RP-C3270, was returned to Cebu Pacific last week. Cebu Pacific began transferring its ATR 72-500 fleet to Cebgo on September 25 with up to eight aircraft expected to be transferred by the end of October.

Cebu Pacific is expected to operate its last turbo-prop flight in October. Once all ATR aircraft are transferred to Cebgo, Cebu Pacific will become an all-jet carrier operating a fleet of Airbus A320 and A330 family aircraft.

According to, nineteen ATR-operated domestic routes will be transferred to Cebgo including the following:

  • Manila to Busuanga effective September 25 (21 weekly)
  • Manila to Caticlan effective September 25 (55 weekly)
  • Manila to Naga effective September 25 (11 weekly)
  • Manila to Laoag effective October 1 (1 daily)
  • Cebu to Caticlan effective October 1 (20 weekly)
  • Cebu to Dipolog effective October 6 (7 weekly)
  • Cebu to Siargao effective October 6 (1 daily)
  • Cebu to Tacloban effective October 6 (21 weekly)
  • Cebu to Camiguin effective October 7 (5 weekly)
  • Cebu to Tandag effective October 7 (3 weekly)
  • Cebu to Butuan effective October 8 (7 weekly)
  • Cebu to Dumaguete effective October 8 (7 weekly)
  • Cebu to Iloilo effective October 8 (9 weekly)
  • Cebu to Legazpi effective October 8 (4 weekly)
  • Cebu to Ozamiz effective October 8 (5 weekly)
  • Cebu to Pagadian effective October 8 (7 weekly)
  • Cebu to Surigao effective October 8 (11 weekly)
  • Davao to Cagayan de Oro effective October 8 (10 weekly)
  • Cebu to Bacolod effective October 26 (7 weekly)
Turbo-prop flights departing or arriving at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila will now operate from Terminal 4. Last June, Cebu Pacific placed an order for sixteen ATR 72-600 aircraft in an effort to boost the carrier's inter-island operations. However, it remains unclear whether the new aircraft will be operated by Cebu Pacific or by Cebgo.

Cebu Pacific rebranded Tigerair Philippines as Cebgo earlier this year to better reflect the budget carrier's relationship with its parent company. According to Cebgo CEO Michael Shau, the new brand clearly identifies the low cost carrier as part of the Cebu Pacific Group. 

Cebgo flight and ground crew are now wearing Cebgo uniforms as the two companies streamline operations. In addition, crew are now playing fun games aboard all Cebgo flights to remain consistent with the Cebu Pacific flight experience.

According to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, Cebu Pacific Group now controls 60% of the Philippine domestic market compared to less than 30 percent ten years ago. The company's acquisition of Tigerair Philippines has proven to be a success based on the quick turn around of the carrier and the continued growth of its domestic market share.

New P15.3 Billion Passenger Terminal Planned for Clark Airport

A brand new P15 billion passenger terminal has been approved for Clark International Airport that is expected to increase flights, passenger traffic, and develop a new gateway to the Philippines. The project was approved at a National Economic and Development Authority Board meeting last month.
Image Source: Clark International Airport
According to Clark Airport CEO Emigdio Tanjuatco, the announcement is a welcome development for the airport. "Approving the passenger terminal project will greatly help attract more airlines to operate at Clark International Airport," said Tanjuatco.
The initial phase of the project will expand the capacity of the airport to accommodate three million passengers each year. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2016 with completion expected within two years.
The passenger terminal will then be expanded further in a second phase to accommodate another five million passengers annually. "Overall, the passenger terminal will accommodate 8 million passengers annually," added Tanjuatco.
News of the P15 billion project comes following the completion of a feasibility study and master plan that was prepared by foreign consultant Aeroports de Paris, which is based in France. The master plan outlines development of the new passenger terminal and other areas in the 2,367 hectare airport complex.
The existing passenger terminal at Clark International Airport is capable of handling up to four million passengers annually. It primarily serves budget carriers including AirAsia, Jin Air, TigerAir, and Cebu Pacific. However, full-service carriers Qatar Airways, Asiana Airlines, and Dragonair also use the airport. 
The Clark airfield is also expected to be reoriented to enable dual-approach take off and landing. According to Tanjuatco, the new master plan will address growth at the airport over the next several years with the expansion phases not disrupting airport operations as construction is modular. 
“The phase one of the new terminal’s capacity is eight million and capacity until 2019 and then 2019 2022 mage-expand yan para maging 16 million passengers per annum. Pagdating sa Neda Board na modify na naman, so approved project ang unang phase ng terminal is that yung gagawin nating bagong terminal three million ang capacity. Kapag nagawa na natin yun which is 2018 ganyan, we will increase to eight million passengers annually,” Tanjuatco said. “Nakita nga ng DOTC atsaka ng Neda na how will you attract airlines kung low-cost ka. Hindi lilipad yung mga malalaking eroplano dito. We already have an existing terminal e and we can dedicate this muna sa low-cost carriers.”
He added that the new master development plan envisions the existing passenger terminal to be used by private jets. “Meron tayong existing [customs, immigration, and quarantine] facilities dito e. Hindi na natin kailangan ayusin pa o gibain. Yung trend worldwide, nakikita ng mga negosyante na mas mabilis at safe ang private jets. So gagawin natin ito parang VIP para sa mga businessmen,” Tanjuatco added.

But analysts are not all convinced that Clark International Airport will emerge as another gateway to the Philippines or as a Manila-alternative airport. With Emirates and AirAsia Philippines failing to make flights viable from Clark, there are doubts that the airport will be able to achieve its growth expectations, particularly with the absence of a rapid transit link connecting the airport to Metro Manila. However, a Japanese firm is currently seeking a local partner to construct a new rapid rail link to connect Clark Green City to the Luzon Rail System.

V Air Plans Low Cost Flights from Manila to Taiwan

V Air, a Taiwanese low-cost carrier, that began operations last year, is planning flights from Taipei to Manila, which will introduce competition for Philippine budget carrier Cebu Pacific. The Taipei-based carrier plans to launch flights to the Philippines by March 2016.
v air a321
Image Source: V Air
According to Carmelo Arcilla of the Civil Aeronautics Board, V Air is currently submitting an application for slots at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. "We had air talks with Taiwan, so we anticipate expansion," said Arcilla. "One of our major markets is Taiwan."
V Air is just one of two low-cost carriers in Taiwan, which began operations in 2014. Compared to the rest of Asia, Taiwan is one of the last countries in the region that has yet to experience the penetration of low-cost travel as it did not have any of its own budget carriers until last year. The other low-cost carrier in the country is Tigerair Taiwan.
V Air is a subsidiary of Trans Asia Airways, which is also based in Taiwan. It currently operates a fleet of two 194-seat Airbus A321 aircraft in an all-economy configuration on three routes from Taipei to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Macau. 
It offers a 32 inch seat pitch in economy class with Taiwanese food and beverage for sale on all flights. The carrier is planning to add an additional three A320 aircraft to begin service to Japan and Korea by the end of this year. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Jin Air Increases Flights to the Philippines

Korean budget carrier Jin Air, a subsidiary of Korean Air, is expanding its footprint in the Philippines as it begins flying new routes to Cebu and Kalibo. The carrier launched new service from Busan to Cebu on September 25, which will be followed by seasonal flights from Seoul Incheon to Kalibo on December 1. 

jin air boracay flights
Image Source: Wikimedia
The flights from Busan to Cebu are being operated by the budget carrier's Boeing 737-800 aircraft. Flights will be operated four times weekly on the 2,808 kilometre route, which will now bring the total number of airlines competing on the route up to four. Jin Air will compete directly against Air Busan, which operates daily flights, as well as Korean Air and Cebu Pacific, which both operate twice weekly services. 

In December, Jin Air will reintroduce non-stop service from Seoul Incheon to Kalibo, gateway to the popular resort destination of Boracay Island. On December 1, the carrier will operate a daily Boeing 737-800 flight between the two cities, which will enable Korean tourists to enjoy a Christmas holiday in the sun. Korea is currently the top source of tourists to the Philippines. 

Last May, Jin Air announced that it would increase the number of flights between Seoul Incheon and Clark International Airport in Pampanga. On May 6, the carrier increased its four weekly flights to daily service. According to Clark International Airport officials, the decision by the Korean budget carrier is a sign of their trust and confidence in the Manila alternative airport. 

Jin Air has been flying to Clark International Airport since 2011. Its Boeing 737-800 aircraft are in an all-economy configuration with the capacity to seat up to 189 passengers. 

Philippine Airlines Expands New York Flight Capacity, Plans Non-Stop Service

National flag carrier Philippine Airlines is set to increase capacity on its flights between Manila and New York via Vancouver, when it upgrades the service from the 254-seat A340 aircraft to the 370-seat Boeing 777 on October 26. 

philippine airlines boeing 777
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
The announcement is welcome news to Filipinos residing on the East Coast of the United States who can now enjoy a modern, state-of-the-art aircraft on what is Philippine Airlines' longest route. The Boeing 777 aircraft is equipped with a full in-flight entertainment package that includes a personal television screen at every seat, compared to the ageing A340 aircraft that merely offers a single program on an overhead screen. 

According to Philippine Airlines President Jaime Bautista, upgrading the route to the Boeing 777 will enable the carrier to operate its longest flight more cost effectively. "Using the Boeing 777 to the US Mainland enables us to operate our long haul flights efficiently and economically," stated Bautista.

The Boeing 777-300ER aircraft currently operates Philippine Airlines flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver, and Toronto. The national carrier currently operates six of the aircraft with an additional two scheduled to arrive in October and December of 2016.

Meanwhile, Bautista added that Philippine Airlines is planning to fly to New York non-stop from Manila beginning next year. The carrier is presently seeking regulatory approvals to utilise a polar route between the two cities from October 2016. 

"We can fly non-stop using the Boeing 777 aircraft to New York," said Bautista. Many had initially believed that Philippine Airlines would wait to acquire longer range, fuel-efficient aircraft such as the Boeing 787 or Airbus A350 before launching non-stop flights to New York. But the carrier has already filed applications with Philippine, Russian, Canadian, and US regulators for the required permits to operate the route. "We need approvals to fly over the North Pole," added Bautista.

When Philippine Airlines acquires the necessary permits, Bautista says that it will also pave the way for direct flights from Manila to Toronto, Canada once demand increases to a sufficient level. Philippine Airlines currently serves Toronto via a stop in Vancouver.

Although Philippine Airlines is not currently planning to launch any new routes in the United States beyond the direct service to New York, it will be increasing flights on its existing routes to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Honolulu.

Meanwhile, the carrier is also planning to launch a brand new flight from Cebu to Los Angeles on March 16, 2016. When the new service is launched, Philippine Airlines will operate 38 weekly flights between the Philippines and United States.

Cebu Pacific: Honolulu Flights Coming in 2016

Cebu Pacific is gearing up to launch its first flights to the United States. The budget carrier had initially stated that it was targeting service to Hawaii by the end of this year. However, the carrier is now indicating that flights to Honolulu will launch in early 2016, following the acquisition of the required permits.

cebu pacific hawaii flights
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
According to Lance Gokongwei, CEO of Cebu Pacific, the budget carrier believes that Honolulu will be a strong market given the large number of Filipinos living in Hawaii. "We are looking at early next year for Honolulu," said Gokongwei. "Once we have the necessary approvals, we will make the announcement."

When Cebu Pacific begins flights to Hawaii, it will compete directly with Philippine Airlines. The budget carrier is expecting the same market stimulation that it has seen in its other long-haul markets, as the price of airfare is driven down by the new competition.

The Philippines to Hawaii market has been without competition since 2013 when Hawaiian Airlines cancelled its non-stop service between Manila and Honolulu, citing intense competition from Philippine Airlines. Hawaiian Airlines previously stated that it could not compete with lower airfares due to its higher operating costs. But Cebu Pacific will undoubtedly be able to level the competitive landscape with its even lower operating cost-structure than Philippine Airlines.

Cebu Pacific is also hoping to attract connecting traffic to lure those bound for cities on the United States mainland, as well as passengers travelling from North Asian cities to Honolulu. The carrier believes that Manila is in a good position to attract this type of traffic. "Using Manila as a hub, probably a lot of North Asian countries can have more direct flights to Honolulu," added Gokongwei.

Cebu Pacific is currently unable to reach the cities on the West Coast of the United States due to range limitations of its existing fleet. The carrier currently flies six Airbus A330-300 aircraft on long-haul routes. However, the carrier is presently studying its options for the acquisition of aircraft that can serve longer range destinations.

Cebu Pacific recently strengthened its position in Southeast Asia, following the establishment of an agreement with Singapore-based Tigerair, which will provide enhanced connectivity for travellers that will be able to tap into the extensive route networks of both Cebu Pacific and Tigerair. Cebu Pacific hopes to source more feeder traffic with the new strategic alliance.

Meanwhile, Cebu Pacific is also seeking regulatory approvals to fly to Guam and expand its footprint in China. In a petition filed with the Civil Aeronautics Board, Cebu Pacific applied for the reallocation of 1,260 seats, currently held by AirAsia Zest. Cebu Pacific would like to use the new allotments to operate three additional flights from Manila to Beijing and four additional flights from Manila to Guangzhou.

Cebu Pacific currently operates long-haul flights from Manila to Sydney, Doha, Riyadh, Dubai, and Kuwait. The budget carrier is presently looking at increasing flights to Australia. Last week, it accepted delivery of its thirty-second brand-new Airbus A320 aircraft.