Tigerair: Phuket Flights Cancelled, Plans to Boost Clark

Tigerair Philippines has cancelled all of its flights between Manila and Phuket after operating the route for less than three months. The airline operated its last flight between Phuket and Manila on December 15.

tigerair manila phuket
Copyright Photo: Joyce Fang/Straits Times
According to company officials, the low passenger volume to Thailand's most popular tourist destination made the route unprofitable. Tigerair Philippines Vice President of Commercial Operations Jose Laurente said that the airline faced challenges selling tickets to passengers travelling in both directions. "It was not really performing as expected," said Laurente. "We saw that people still preferred to go direct to Bangkok and then fly to Phuket."

He added that the passenger load factor on the route was only fifty percent and that eighty percent was required for a destination to be profitable. "We have reviewed this and have found it to be a non-profitable route," said Laurente. "In the region, we also compete with Philippine beaches like Boracay. So, for some, why go to Phuket if we have nice beaches here also?"

Laurente also suggested that it was a challenge selling flights from Phuket to Manila citing that internal projections did not meet the required profitability thresholds. On November 23, a passenger travelling onboard Tigerair from Phuket to Manila reported that only 29 passengers were on board the aircraft. Tigerair launched the Manila-Phuket route at the beginning of September with two weekly flights. But the airline was not alone on the route facing competition by Cebu Pacific that launched its own Manila-Phuket flights less than one month earlier.

Cebu Pacific continues to fly between Manila and Phuket three times each week with service on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Although Cebu Pacific has not revealed the performance of its route to Phuket, there have been no indications of any future cancellations or reductions in service.

Meanwhile, Tigerair Philippines is using the opportunity to explore new international route opportunities in Japan, South Korea, and Macau. The carrier is planning to launch service from Manila to Macau and from Clark to Incheon and Tokyo in the first quarter of 2014. Most recently, Tigerair increased its service between Clark and Davao to three flights weekly as of December 17.

"Clark International Airport is a vital location for our operations especially in our flights in the Asia Pacific region," said Olive Ramos, CEO of Tigerair Philippines. "We intend to expand our presence in the area." She added that the airline plans to focus on Clark because of its potential as a gateway to the North and because of the tax benefits that makes operations from the airport less costly for air carriers. "Lower operational costs means more affordable rates for travelers," said Ramos. "Operating in Clark offers many incentives, such as the fuel is tax free, and fuel is sixty to seventy percent of the cost of operations for carriers."

Meanwhile, Clark International Airport Corporation CEO Victor Luciano revealed that the French and Philippine governments were on the verge of signing a memorandum of agreement that would pave the way for French firm, Aeroports de Paris, to plan and design a new Budget Terminal for Clark Airport. Funds for the project will be provided by the Department of Transportation and Communications with an estimated cost of P7.2 billion. The Budget Terminal is expected to hold up to 15 million passengers annually.

As for Phuket bound passengers, Tigerair says that it will re-evaluate the route next year to determine if reviving the service could be feasible particularly given that its first attempt at the service was launched during the lean months.  Passengers wishing to travel to Phuket may still fly direct from Manila on Cebu Pacific or board a Tigerair flight from Clark to Bangkok and connect to one of the many Thai carriers operating between Bangkok and Phuket including Thai Airways, Thai AirAsia, Nok Air, and Orient Thai.

Tigerair Philippines continues to operate a number of domestic flights from Manila as well as international flights from Clark International Airport to Singapore, Hong Kong, and Bangkok utilizing its fleet of five Airbus aircraft. It plans to grow the fleet up to 25 planes within the next five years. Tigerair was recently forced to cancel its flights to Tacloban after Typhoon Yolanda hit the region.

1 comment:

  1. "Laurente also suggested that it was a challenge selling flights from Phuket to Manila citing that internal projections did not meet the required profitability thresholds."

    -more of like...let's fly to where CEB goes....ayan tuloy, cut the route in less than 3 months.


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