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Cebu Pacific to fly to Sydney, Kuwait

Airline undaunted by overcapacity reported for routes

Dominant budget carrier Cebu Pacific is launching flights from Manila to Sydney, Australia, by Sept. 9 as it seeks to compete with rivals for a slice  of market serving the wealthy country-continent, Cebu Pacific CEO Lance Gokongwei said in a briefing Monday.

The carrier—which also announced direct flights to Kuwait by Sept. 2, its second in the Middle East after launching the Dubai route in October last year—announced flights to Australia even as regional carriers have started to scale back operations given due to a reported overcapacity.

Gokongwei said, however, that Cebu Pacific had the potential to grow the market, partly due to the large Filipino presence in Australia, estimated at about 300,000 people, while offering fares about 30 percent lower than its rivals.

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With losses expected in the near term as the carrier builds up the routes, Gokongwei noted that they expect to hit break-even within six to 18 months for Australia and Kuwait.

Gokongwei said their experience with Dubai, where the airline has achieved a passenger load factor of 80 percent, means the carrier was now more confident in pursuing its long-haul strategy.

Cebu Pacific, for example, is vying for seat entitlements to Canada that are also being sought by flag carrier Philippine Airlines.

“Once those slots are awarded, we will take this very seriously and consider all options for that,” said Gokongwei, noting that the plan could involve getting longer-range planes not in its existing fleet.

Cebu Pacific will be the only airline offering nonstop flights to Kuwait, which hosts more than 180,000 Filipino workers. The new Manila-Kuwait thrice weekly service will start on Sept. 2.

After a Manila to Sydney seat sale starting at P4,999, the carrier’s rates start at P12,150, a statement showed.

These new routes will utilize Cebu Pacific’s brand new Airbus A330-300 aircraft with a configuration of 436 all-economy class seats.

Cebu Pacific’s 52-strong fleet is comprised of 10 Airbus A319, 30 Airbus A320, 4 Airbus A330 and eight ATR-72-500 aircraft. It is one of the most modern fleets in the world. Between 2014 and 2021, Cebu Pacific will take delivery of 11 more brand-new Airbus A320, 30 Airbus A321neo, and two Airbus A330 aircraft.

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TAGS: aviation, Business, Cebu Pacific, Kuwait, Sydney
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