CEBU Pacific, currently the Philippines’ largest carrier, is preparing to launch services to Hawaii and Guam before the end of 2015 as part of its program to expand its reach.
The John Gokongwei-led airline is optimistic it will be able to launch services to Honolulu by the end of 2015. It is also aiming to launch flights from Manila to the US territory of Guam but this shorter route will be operated using Cebu’s A320.
“Guam and Hawaii. [Our] A330 can fly to Hawaii and the A320 can fly to Guam,” Lance Gokongwei, chief executive officer and president of Cebu Pacific, told reporters.
“[These are] subject to various regulatory approvals. Hopefully before the end of the year [Cebu Pacific will] secure the necessary slots” he added.
Cebu Pacific is also interested in flying to Melbourne by the end of the year if it is able to secure additional traffic rights for Australia, the Center for Aviation (CAPA) said earlier.
Honolulu and and Melbourne would be Cebu Pacific’s sixth and seventh long-haul destination, in addition to four in the Middle East and Sydney.
Cebu Pacific secured the certification in April 2015 and is now waiting for final approval from the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which has to complete an assessment of Manila Terminal 3 before Cebu Pacific can serve the United States.
Hawaii’s Filipino community will be the main target market for the planned Honolulu service.
Manila-Honolulu is currently served only by non-stop by Philippine Airlines (PAL) flights five times weekly using an A330-300 aircraft.
CAPA said Hawaiian Airlines pulled out of the Manila market in 2013, leaving an opening for a second carrier.
Total capacity in the Philippines-Hawaii market is now back to the early 2013 levels. Cebu Pacific is banking it can stimulate demand and break PAL’s monopoly by providing low fares.
Honolulu will allow Cebu Pacific to diversify its long-haul network, which now relies heavily on the Middle East. Cebu’s only current long-haul route outside the Middle East is Sydney, which it launched in September 2015.
In April, CAPA said that Cebu Pacific has opted to adopt a “wait-and-see approach” on its plan to purchase new wide body aircraft to serve Australia and the Middle East markets.
Cebu Pacific’s original business plan involved the purchase of eight A330s for its long-haul flights. But the company’s long-haul operation has been unprofitable.
It can improve its capacity by maximizing the use of its six aircraft. The carrier also plans to use its A330-300 wide-body fleet to its flights to Hong Kong, Taipei and Tokyo.
“With the current A330 fleet, it is hard to imagine the airline operating more than six long-haul routes, which Cebu Pacific will be operating once it launches Honolulu,” CAPA said.
The carrier uses the A330 on one of its daily Singapore flights and plans to add a second wide-body to its Manila-Singapore, which is its largest international route.
CEB’s 55-strong fleet is comprised of 10 Airbus A319, 31 Airbus A320, 6 Airbus A330 and 8 ATR 72-500 aircraft. It is one of the most modern aircraft fleets in the world.
Between 2015 and 2021, CEB will take delivery of seven more brand-new Airbus A320 and 30 Airbus A321neo aircraft.