SEAIR Philippines Looks at Expansion in 2013: Phuket and Legazpi Next

Many people may not be familiar with South East Asian Airlines as it typically portrays the role of David in the Philippine air industry ruled by Goliath carriers Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific. But "this little airline that could" is seeking to build a flight path of its own in the Philippine skies as it seeks to expand in 2013.


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SEAir proudly proclaims "It's More Fun in the Philippines"

Although most aren't aware of it, SEAir Philippines has actually played an instrumental role in the development of tourism and air travel in the Philippines. Afterall, it was SEAir who pioneered flights to Boracay (Caticlan) and flights to Northern Palawan (El Nido) turning the once sleeping giants into major tourist destinations in the Philippines. Since Tiger Airways purchased its 40% stake in the Philippine airline, the focus has shifted to a different business model introducing an era of low fares, low cost, and larger jet aircraft. But while the business model has changed, the heart of their business hasn't continuing to place great priority on customer service and focusing on helping emerging destinations become key tourism and investment hubs by driving new traffic into the regions they serve.

This was quite evident as SEAir launched its maiden flight to Laoag on April 4, 2013. SEAir management views Laoag as one of the fastest growing cities in Northern Luzon and an important gateway to the endless tourist destinations, historical and cultural sites available in the north which is quickly emerging as the country's newest tourist hot spot. SEAir has a proven track record of maintaining a pulse on destinations to watch. The airline has a history of helping emerging destinations evolve into thriving business and tourism centres. They practice what they preach as well proclaiming that, "It's More Fun in the Philippines" on the sides of their aircraft.

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SEAir is helping to build Laoag into the gateway of the North
Photo Credit: BestPhilippineAttractions.com

Now under the leadership of CEO Olive Ramos, South East Asian Airlines along with its partnership with Tiger Airways is forging a path to become a major player in the Philippine air travel industry with its fleet of Airbus A319/A320 aircraft which is expected to grow at a rate of two to three aircraft per year. The strategy to gain market share is cautiously optimistic and aggressive all at the same time as the airline cautiously expands and enters into new markets while still managing to dig into the heels of Cebu Pacific with its own aggresive SEAir fare promotions.

As SEAir seeks to become a major player within the next five years, the airline will look to cover more international flights out of Clark, Cebu and Mindanao following its tradition of bringing travellers more opportunities to discover the beauty of the Philippines. Clark is a particularly important focus hub as SEAir currently holds the title for the most flights in and out of Clark Airport, a position they wish to keep.

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Clark Airport is an important SEAir hub and possibly the next major gateway to the Philippines
Photo Copyright: Clark International Airport
For the year ahead, all of the Philippine airlines are seeking to emerge from what was a challenging 2012 plagued by stiff competition resulting in irrational fare wars. Following its successful route launch to Laoag, SEAir is already planning its next Philippine destination, Legazpi City to be launched within the next few months. The airline is also on the lookout for partnerships with local governments to launch major tourist and commuter routes to Naga, Bohol, Cagayan De Oro, Zamboanga, General Santos, and Tawi Tawi.

Internationally, SEAir will be pioneering yet another new route launching Manila's first and only direct service to Phuket, Thailand due to launch by the end of the year. Flights to Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Indonesia are also on the horizon.

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Phuket, Thailand will be SEAir's next international destination
It's hard to know who will win this battle of David versus Goliath. For the travelling public, it is an obvious win with healthy competition bringing affordable airfares. As the Philippine economy and awareness of the country as a tourist destination grows, so will the demand for air travel. In five years, SEAir might just be the little airline that could and one of the country's major airlines. As for David otherwise known as SEAir, we know how his story ended. If SEAir's past success pioneering flights to Northern Palawan and Boracay is any indication, we think we know how this story will end too.


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