Cebu Pacific Adds Flights to Tokyo and Nagoya

Cebu Pacific announced last month that it will begin operating flights from Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Tokyo Narita and Nagoya, Japan beginning in March of 2014. 

cebu pacific nagoya
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
Cebu Pacific will be the first low-cost carrier from the Philippines to launch direct service to Nagoya and Tokyo using their fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft. Flights to Nagoya will be operated four times weekly while Tokyo Narita flights will be operated daily. The new flights come following the establishment of an expanded air service agreement between the Philippines and Japan that saw flight allowances increase from 119 to 400 flights per week. The new agreement is expected to generate new service, increased frequencies, competitive airfares, and market stimulation. 

Cebu Pacific already revealed following the announcement of the new agreement that it will be increasing its three times weekly service between Manila and Osaka to daily flights beginning on December 20. According to Candice Iyog, Vice President for Marketing and Distribution at Cebu Pacific, the new services to Japan will increase the number of tourist arrivals coming from that country. "With Cebu Pacific's trademark lowest fares, travellers form Japan now have Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka as jump-off points when exploring the Philippines' world-renowned beach and diving destinations," said Iyog. 

Year-round fares will start at just P5,499 each way which Cebu Pacific says is sixty percent less than competing full service airlines. However, ticket prices do exclude the cost of government taxes and fuel surcharges. Although the launch of the new Cebu Pacific service between Manila and Tokyo is still nearly four months away, travellers are already anticipating greater choice and flexibility on the busy route. 

Flights to Tokyo, Narita are expected to launch on March 30 and the announcement is beginning to spark a fare war. Travellers would be well advised to shop around for fares rather than assuming that Cebu Pacific will be the cheapest. Between March 30 and April 6, the latest fare offered by Cebu Pacific on the route is approximately P19,000. However, that does not include meals, baggage, taxes, or fuel surcharge. Philippine Airlines is offering an all-in budget economy fare of just under P22,000. That includes two pieces of checked luggage weighing 50 lbs each and meal service. 

Foreign carriers are charging considerably more in comparison to local carriers. However, it is worth keeping an eye on them as prices could drop any time once competition intensifies. Japan Airlines is offering the lowest fare of the foreign carriers at just under P30,000 while its primary competitor All Nippon Airways is offering a fare just over P31,000. Delta charges the highest fare during that period at nearly P49,000 round-trip.

Another piece of welcome news resulting from the new Cebu Pacific service is that travellers will now have an earlier flight option to Japan. Previously, US carrier Delta Airlines offered the earliest departure from NAIA Terminal 1 at 7:45am as part of its daily schedule. However, Cebu Pacific will be departing NAIA Terminal 3 more than 2 hours earlier at 5:25am arriving in Narita at 10:35am. The flight is approximately four hours long. 

Philippine Airlines continues to maintain the highest frequency between Manila and Narita with three daily flights. PAL's flights depart from Manila mid-morning, at noon, and mid-afternoon. In theory, this now makes it possible to complete a business trip to Tokyo in just one day catching the early Cebu Pacific flight out of Manila and the last Philippine Airlines trip departing Narita at 7:00pm. However, what is likely to please most travellers is having another option to fly to Japan that enables travellers to not only take advantage of lower fares and better flight frequencies but to also avoid the dated and chaotic environment of NAIA Terminal 1.  

Meanwhile, Cebu Pacific is lobbying the government to divest Philippine Airlines of its flight entitlements to Taiwan that have yet to be used. Cebu Pacific recently filed an application with the Civil Aeronautics Board asking for the re-allocation of the 1,260 seat entitlements to Taiwan. Currently, Cebu Pacific only operates two flights per week to Taipei. 

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