SkyJet Airlines to Return in February

After being grounded for more than two months after its sole aircraft overshot the runway at Balesin Island in October, SkyJet Airlines is poised to make a come back this coming February after recently taking delivery of a replacement aircraft.

bae 146-100 skyjet
Image Source: SkyJet Airlines
SkyJet Airlines released a photograph of its new aircraft on its Facebook page on December 31. The new aircraft, a 79-seat British Aerospace Bae 146-100 arrived in Manila on December 30, 2013 and will replace the larger 94-seat British Aerospace Bae 146-200 aircraft that was involved in the accident on Balesin Island.

SkyJet Airlines is planning to resume jet service to Batanes on February 3, 2014 with three weekly flights operated every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Service to Coron is also expected to be re-instated in February. 

According to an official at SkyJet Airlines, the newest member of the fleet, the 79-seat Bae 146-100 aircraft comes with a smaller fuselage and less seats than its 94-seat predecessor but the new aircraft will have the ability to land on the short runway at Caticlan Airport, the nearest gateway to Boracay Island. The airline is planning to introduce service between Manila and Caticlan Airport in April of 2014. No announcements were made regarding SkyJet's previous destination of Virac or the previously announced new destinations of Catarman and Surigao. 

SkyJet Airlines said that the features and looks of its new aircraft are identical to its predecessor and only aviators would be able to notice the minor differences. The airline reported on its Facebook website that although the new aircraft is smaller, SkyJet will be introducing all Business Class seats on its upcoming commercial flights. No photographs or information regarding the new Business Class cabin have been released yet but fares on the SkyJet website are considerably higher when compared with other carriers on similar routes. 

SkyJet is currently advertising fares between Manila and Coron in February for more than Php 5,000 each-way. But the airline maintains that their focus is to sell experience rather than seats. All SkyJet flights are inclusive of snacks and baggage charges. In addition, the airline markets that it provides the fastest flight and only jet service on all of its routes. SkyJet is also marketing the 3,000 kilograms of cargo space available on its British Aerospace aircraft offering sufficient space for passenger luggage, sports equipment, and balikbayan boxes. 

The airline plans to grow its fleet of British Aerospace 146 aircraft in order to serve under served destinations and niche markets in the Philippines in an effort to help develop tourism. SkyJet revealed on its Facebook page earlier this year that it aims to enhance customer relations in 2014 as a means to win back the trust and confidence of passengers that were inconvenienced as a result of the flight disruptions over the last two months. Several passengers reported poor communication, inability to obtain refunds, flight cancellations, and challenges reaching SkyJet staff in spite of the fact that SkyJet continued to sell tickets and reports that flights would resume. 

SkyJet previously announced that flights would resume in December but blamed long government processes and procedures as the reason that the resumption of flights was delayed as the airline could not obtain the necessary arrival permits for its new aircraft in a timely fashion. Airline officials also cited management issues, technical upgrading of their company website and Facebook page, along with an aircraft situation as causes of the poor communication and delays during the holiday season. The airline referred to the situation as, "bad timing."

In a statement released on its Facebook page, Skyjet said, "The other aircraft that overshot the runway in Balesin, which is one of the most prestigious resort islands in the Philippines, had severely disrupted our commercial flights. The arrival of a new SkyJet Bae 146 aircraft is welcome news, just in time for the peak season to provide a Business Class service not only for the elite class but also for the general commuters of SkyJet's commercial destinations. Happy New Year!" The airline added that refunds are currently being processed for passengers whose flights were cancelled and the estimated date of release is January 15, 2014.

SkyJet Airlines is owned by Philippine entrepreneur, Dr. Joel Mendoza and Philippine politician, Dino Carlo Chua. The airline was started in December 2012 with a focus on serving exotic niche destinations in the Philippines. By serving exotic niche destinations, the airline plans to contribute to the Philippine economy by boosting local tourism while advocating for the preservation of cultural heritage and natural resources.

"Unlike other players, SkyJet is not in the low cost carrier category. We promise our clients quality of service and affordable seats. We're bringing back the frills in flying," said SkyJet in a statement on its Facebook page. "We sell experience, not only seats. We are here to promote destinations and culture." 

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