PH, Australia airlines increase passenger seats

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The Philippines and Australia have 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 Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) said on Thursday.

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CAB Executive Director Carmelo Arcillas 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.

“The Philippines and Australia signed on April 29 a Memorandum of Understanding on Air Services increasing the seat entitlements between Manila and Australia from the current 6,000 seats per week to 9,300 seats per week,” Arcilla said.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) has flights to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Darwin and low-cost carrier, Cebu Pacific, operates flights to Sydney. They fully utilize the Philippine entitlements.

Total traffic between the two countries was about 327,000 in 2014, a growth of 10 percent over 2013. Tourists from Australia was about 224,000 in 2014, which is about 5 percent bigger than 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 Gocongwei-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 compound annual growth rate of 8 percent over five years.

CEB it will attend the air talks, which will be held in Canberra, Australia on April 28. Analysis from leading aviation think tank Centre for Aviation (CAPA) said routes between Australia and the Philippines are under-serviced.

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