Archipelago Philippine Ferries Corp. (APFC), the operator of roll-on/roll-off ferries FastCat is looking to triple its fleet by 2020, positioning itself for expansion in the Southeast Asian region.
APFC President and Chief Operating Officer Christopher Pastrana said that FastCat, which currently has a fleet of 10 vessels, aims to operate 30 ferries by 2020.
“We have 10 vessels, we will have 30 in the next three years,” Pastrana told reporters at a lunch briefing in Makati Thursday.
FastCat’s fleet expansion is the first step toward the conglomerate’s bid to expand its routes to various destinations in the Southeast Asian region.
The ferry transport provider will be expanding to Indonesia, Malaysia and eventually in Singapore and possibly in Thailand.
“[Expansion] to Indonesia and Malaysia should start already as part of the ASEAN integration,” Pastrana told reporters.
He said the Singapore routes would be included in the next phase of expansion towards 2020.
FastCat, which started operating its first vessel in 2013, aims to carry 10 million passengers and 12 million tons of cargo by 2020.
The company also plans to serve 20 ports in three to four years’ time. It currently operates in 14 ports across the eastern, western and central regions of the Philippines including Mindanao.
Cargo trucks and buses drive 60 percent of the business, according to Pastrana,, with the remainder coming from passenger fare revenues.
The company has a set capital expenditure (capex) of P300 million this year, most of it to be spent on vessel maintenance.
A part of the capex will be allotted to the company’s expansion into hotel business.
“Capex is for the ship repair, training facility, and small and medium hotels,” Pastrana said.
To cater its passengers’ need for accommodations after a trip, AFPC is building two budget hotels with a 70-room capacity in Bulakakaw, Siquijor and Matnog, Sorsogon, Mary Ann Ibuna-Pastrana said.
“We provide safe travel. We also want to provide passengers with clean restrooms and a place where they can rest after traveling,” Ibuna-Pastrana said.
She said the two hotels are already in the works, one of which is a container-style hotel.
The accommodations, according to Ibuna-Pastrana, will be bundled with ferry tickets. But, prospective guests who are not passengers of FastCat are also welcome.
FastCat ferries have a capacity of 275 passengers, 7 trucks and 34 cars. Complying with the rules and safety standards of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), International Maritime Organization (IMO), and the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers (STCW), the operator takes pride in the safety of its vessels.
“What is good with these vessels is that we are the only company that complies with IMO,” Pastrana said.
FastCat vessels are designed by Sea Transport Solutions of Australia. The vessels were designed to suit the weather and sea conditions in the Philippines.
The ferries are also equipped with global positioning systems, and are also equipped with four engines to assure return to post operations.