PAL Considering Flights to Japan from Palawan and Davao

Philippine Airlines has revealed that it is considering launching new routes to Japan from secondary hubs in the country by the second half of 2014. According to a Philippine Airlines executive, the airline is presently studying the commercial viability of flying from Palawan and Davao to key cities in Japan. 

philippine airlines japan palawan
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
"We now fly twice daily from Cebu to Narita, and we are studying the new destinations," said Ismael Gozon, Senior Vice President for Airline Operations. "There is a big demand in Davao and Palawan and we'll try to service these markets."

Philippine Airlines currently offers the largest number of flights between the Philippines and Japan with service to Nagoya, Fukuoka, Osaka, Tokyo-Narita, and Tokyo-Haneda. The airline has served Japan since 1949. The route to Tokyo Haneda launched at the end of March is the newest service to Japan to be operated by the airline.

Haneda Airport is the second major gateway to the Greater Tokyo area and is believed to be the preferred airport for business travellers due to its close proximity to the Tokyo city centre. Haneda Airport is also considered to be the world's most slot-restrictive airport. Although Philippine Airlines was the first carrier to announce a direct route between Manila and Haneda, it will have to compete against Japan-based competitor, All Nippon Airways, which will launch the new route on the same day as PAL.

With the addition of the new service, Haneda Airport will become Philippine Airlines' fifth gateway in Japan. PAL now operates 47 flights per week to Japan, the highest number of any carrier flying between the two countries. The number of Japanese visitors is expected to rise dramatically in the next two years as airlines from both countries increase capacity after the recent successful round of air negotiations between the nations.

According to Assistant Secretary Benito Bengzon of the Department of Tourism, the Japanese market, considered to be one of the world's most "sought after" markets due to their higher spending power, could increase by up to 20 percent in 2014. Last September, Japan and the Philippines agreed to raise the number of weekly flights permitted from 119 to 400.

The increase in capacity represents an additional 80,000 seats per week available between the two countries. "I think when you compute for the total number of new seats, the 15 to 20 percent growth is achievable," said Bengzon. Japan is currently the country's third largest source of tourists. South Korea tops the list with 1.2 million arrivals in 2013 compared to 433,700 from Japan. Bengzon believes that South Korea will likely retain its leading status through 2016 but Japan could capture the leading spot in the future. "What you will see over the next couple of years is faster growth coming from Japan," added Bengzon.

The latest air deal struck between Japan and the Philippines is believed to be one of the most liberal increases in air traffic rights in spite of Japan being considered to have one of the most protective aviation policies in the world. 

Philippine Airlines launched its new service to Haneda Airport on March 30 bringing their total number of daily flights to Japan up to eleven. Cebu Pacific also launched new service to Japan on March 30 with new flights from Manila to Nagoya and Tokyo. Cebu Pacific previously only flew to Osaka. 

Japan-based All Nippon Airways will launch its new route to Haneda Airport as well on March 30. The route is expected to eventually be operated by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. All Nippon Airways has been flying between Manila and Tokyo Narita for the last three years. It is currently the only foreign carrier to operate from NAIA Terminal 3. Meanwhile, budget carrier AirAsia Zest is expected to launch flights to Japan by the end of the year.

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