Cebu Pacific Draws Closer to PAL's Tokyo Haneda Slots

As it prepares to accept delivery of additional aircraft in 2015, Cebu Pacific, the country's largest low-cost carrier is planning to expand its footprint in Japan. The carrier is currently eyeing coveted landing slots being held at Tokyo's premier gateway, Haneda Airport, by Philippine Airlines.

cebu pacific haneda
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
After the recent negotiation of the Japan-Philippines air services agreement, Philippine Airlines was awarded all fourteen weekly entitlements between Manila and Tokyo Haneda. Cebu Pacific had originally filed an application for seven of the entitlements but it was rejected by the Civil Aeronautics Board citing that Haneda is an airport for business travellers and requires carriers that can offer Business Class. 

Although Haneda Airport primarily does serve business travellers due to its close proximity to the city, it is not exclusive to any particular type of carrier and several low-cost carriers already serve the airport with many business travellers flying aboard them. 

According to Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines is currently only using eleven of its fourteen weekly entitlements and the budget carrier would like to claim the three remaining unused entitlements. The Civil Aeronautics Board enforces a "use it or lose it" policy, which enables entitlements to be reassigned in the event that they are not used by the carrier that holds the rights for a period of at least six months.

In this instance, Cebu Pacific must wait until the end of this month before Philippine Airlines and its corresponding Haneda entitlements can be challenged under this policy. A spokesperson from Philippine Airlines told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that, "The plan is to progressively phase in the remaining PAL frequencies to Haneda in the first half of 2015." But it remains unclear if these plans will materialise or if it will be too late for the Civil Aeronautics Board.

The Civil Aeronautic Board still needs to assess why Philippine Airlines failed to use all of its entitlements. If there is a valid reason presented, it is possible that they may be given an extension. "We have a 'use it or lose it' rule," said Carmelo Arcilla, Executive Director of CAB. "But it's not a hard and fast rule."

The hearing on Cebu Pacific's petition to acquire the Haneda entitlements is set for December 10. Philippine Airlines originally launched the Manila to Haneda route with twice daily flights earlier this year before immediately scaling back just one month later. 

Meanwhile, Cebu Pacific anticipates delivery of five new aircraft from Airbus next year as part of its re-fleeting program. According to Jorenz Tanada, Cebu Pacific's Vice President of Corporate Affairs, the carrier is set to receive four A320 aircraft and one A330 wide-body aircraft. 

"The Airbus A320's may be deployed to our new short-haul routes announced recently -- Cebu to Tokyo Narita and Cebu to Taipei -- in March," said Tanada. "As for the Airbus A330, we will deploy the aircraft on the Manila-Hong Kong route after the successful air talks in October." He added that the budget carrier was looking at increasing frequencies in the Middle East and possibly entering the United States, pending regulatory approvals.


  1. I found the CAB reasoning funny..

    1. 14 slots for a 3-star airline is too many. Give chance to those who want to compete. After all, this is a world of free market economy....or monopoly? Come on, be nice!

  2. Haneda is an airport for business travellers and requires carriers that can offer Business Class. <--LOL


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