THE country’s two biggest carriers – Cebu Air Inc. operating as Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines Inc. (PAL) – are seeking additional seat entitlements to Australia following the signing of a new air service agreement between Australia and the Philippines recently.
The two carriers have filed with the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) their respective applications for additional seat entitlements to Australia in accordance with the recently concluded Confidential Memorandum of Understanding (CMOU) entered into between the governments of the Philippines and Australia on April 29, 2015.
In a notice, Cebu Pacific Air said it is asking for an allocation of 1,722 weekly seats for Manila-Australia flights while PAL is asking for an allocation of 2,319 weekly seats for this flight by winter 2015 and 796 weekly seats by winter 2016.
In April, the Philippines and Australia agreed to increase the airline seat entitlements in flights between the two countries from 6,000 to 9,300 seats per week, a senior official of the CAB said.
Earlier, CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla said the two countries also agreed to allow “third country code sharing,” which will allow designated airlines to operate joint services with an airline of a third country to improve market distribution.
PAL offers flights to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Darwin while low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific operates flights to Sydney. They fully utilize the Philippine entitlements.
Total passenger traffic between the two countries was about 327,000 in 2014, up by about 10 percent from 2013. Tourists from Australia reached about 224,000 in 2014, roughly 5 percent more than in 2014.
Cebu Pacific said it was seeking additional frequencies to Australia, where about 400,000 Filipinos live, because of growing passenger traffic.
“In the first four months of operations, Cebu Pacific’s low fares and direct, non-stop services significantly stimulated inbound traffic into the Philippines and Australia,” said Alex Reyes, Cebu Pacific general manager, Long Haul Division.
In January 2015, CEB carried 13,875 passengers, more than any other carrier operating direct flights to Sydney from Manila.
The Gokongwei-led carrier started operating four times weekly non-stop flights to Sydney on September 9, 2014. The airline added a fifth frequency after three months.
From September to December 2014, Australia’s Bureau of Infrastructure Trade and Regional Economics (BITRE) reported a 42-percent increase in passenger traffic between Sydney and Manila.
Prior to the carrier’s entry, passenger traffic in the route had been growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 8 percent over five years.
Analysis from leading aviation think tank Centre for Aviation (CAPA) said routes between Australia and the Philippines are under-serviced.