Budget airline Cebu Pacific is adding Kuwait to its list of planned destinations once it starts long-haul operations later this year.
Government records showed that Cebu Pacific applied for the right to fly four flights a week between Manila and Kuwait, home to nearly 150,000 Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Cebu Pacific intends to use flight allocations that were agreed upon between the Philippine and Kuwaiti governments following negotiations in 2009.
The notice of hearing published by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) showed that Cebu Pacific’s application would be tackled on Jan. 15.
The notice was likewise sent to all Philippine carriers with commercial international operations to give them the chance to comment or oppose Cebu Pacific’s plans. Cebu Pacific will use the Airbus A330 aircraft for its service to Kuwait.
Kuwait’s Interior Ministry estimated that close to 150,000 Filipinos live in Kuwait today.
In a separate notice, the CAB said Cebu Pacific has also applied for the right to impose a fuel surcharge of $110 per passenger for flights to Dubai, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Fuel surcharges are on top of regular ticket prices to account for the price of fuel, which accounts for more than half of an airline’s total costs. Cebu Pacific’s application will be tackled on Jan. 29.
The UAE is home to 450,000 OFWs, most of them living in the capital.
Planned for the third quarter of 2013, Cebu Pacific’s long-haul operations will be the first time for a Philippine budget airline to venture out of the Asia-Pacific region. Cebu Pacific has an order for an initial four Airbus A330 aircraft, with the option of increasing it to eight, to be used for long-haul flights.
Cebu Pacific, owned by the Gokongwei family’s JG Summit Holdings, posted a net income of P538.44 million in the third quarter of 2012, a turnaround from its P219.27-million net loss in the same period the year before.
Last November, the US Department of Transportation approved the request of the budget airline to fly to trust territories Guam and Saipan as well as leading destinations Honolulu, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The approval was subject to the condition that Cebu Pacific “wet-lease” aircraft from an American carrier or an airline leasing company in a Category 1 country. The Philippines was placed under Category 2 status in 2008 by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for failing to comply with International Civil Aviation Organization standards.
A wet-lease agreement means the American airline or the leasing company will provide the aircraft with crew members, maintenance and other services to Cebu Pacific.