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CebuPac eyes PAL’s unused slots to Haneda

/ 01:20 AM November 22, 2014
A Cebu Pacific plane on the tarmac of the Puerto Princesa international airport. RICK ALBERTO/INQUIRER.net

A Cebu Pacific plane . RICK ALBERTO/INQUIRER.net

Cebu Pacific Air, the Philippines’ biggest budget airline, remains keen on the coveted flights to Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan, as it formally seeks to take over Philippine Airlines’ unused slots to this destination.

Philippine Airlines was earlier given all 14 weekly frequencies in the Manila to Haneda route but information on its website showed that three of these remained unused.

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Under a so-called “use it or lose it principle” the government, through the Civil Aeronautics Board, has the right to reassign frequencies that remain unused for at least six months. In the case of PAL’s unused slots to Haneda, this six-month period ends this month.

In its filing in the CAB, Cebu Pacific said it was seeking the reallocation of “additional unused frequencies of three coefficients weekly seats on route Manila-Haneda from the unutilized seat entitlements previously allocated to Philippine Airlines.”

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“The plan is to progressively phase in the remaining PAL frequencies to Haneda in the first half of 2015,” PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said in a text message.

The flag carrier mounts 11 flights from Manila to Haneda weekly, its latest international flight schedule showed.

Flights to Haneda are coveted, especially by business travelers, because it is located about 30 minutes away from central Tokyo by car. In comparison, traveling from Narita International Airport gateway to central Tokyo takes about an hour.

“We have a ‘use it or lose it’ rule but it’s not a hard and fast rule,” CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla said in an interview Friday. He said the CAB needed to weigh the reasons why a carrier failed to maximize the use of its allocation and sometimes, extensions were given.

The CAB has set a hearing on Cebu Pacific’s petition for Dec. 10, the filing showed.

Cebu Pacific, which flies daily from Manila to Narita, sought half of the 14 frequencies given to Philippine carriers as early as last year.

These were eventually all awarded to PAL, which launched twice a day flights from Manila to Haneda starting March 30 before scaling down the service about a month later.

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Cebu Pacific, whose filing comes months ahead of the busy summer season in 2015, said it had already pre-sold about 25 percent of its seat capacity in the next three months, underscoring the growing demand for affordable air travel.

The company said in a summary of its third quarter analyst briefing that forward bookings for December until February 2015 were up 12 percent year-on-year.

The carrier, which has a fleet of 52 planes, said in its recent financial report that passenger volume increased by 14.8 percent in the first nine months of 2014. The carrier is targeting to hit 17 million passengers for 2014, up 18 percent from year-ago level. Miguel R. Camus

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TAGS: airlines, aviation, Cebu Pacific, Cielo Villaluna, Haneda Airport, Japan, Philippine Airlines, Tokyo
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