AirPhil Express eyes flights to SabahBy Paolo G. Montecillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Budget airline AirPhil Express, the sister company of flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL), plans to mount flights between Zamboanga City and Sandakan in Malaysia’s Sabah region, representing the company’s first international flight out of the key Mindanao airport.
Documents from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) said AirPhil Express planned direct flights to Sandakan, a popular eco-tourism destination and one of the largest cities in Sabah.
AirPhil Express plans to impose a fuel surcharge of $15 for each passenger for the new service. Fuel surcharges are paid on top of regular ticket prices to cover the cost of fuel, which accounts for the bulk of an airline’s expenses.
The Zamboanga-Sandakan flights will be the only international service out of the Zamboanga International Airport, Mindanao’s third-busiest airport after Davao and Cagayan de Oro. Zamboanga International Airport is operated by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).
Apart from AirPhil Express, only Cebu Pacific has flights to Zamboanga.
AirPhil Express has international flights to Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, all served by its fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft.
Latest government data showed that the company’s international passenger business slumped slightly to 104,820 passengers in the first three quarters of 2012 from 107,235 in the same period the year before.
This came despite the growth in total international air traffic to the country to 12.56 million in the nine-month period, up from 11.69 million the previous year.
PAL remained the market leader with 3.07 million international passengers in January to September 2012, up from 2.99 million 12 months prior.
Cebu Pacific, for its part, ended September of 2012 with 2.03 million passengers, up from 1.82 million in January to September of 2011.