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Cebu Pacific eyes Clark for more Japan flights

/ 05:03 AM February 12, 2019

Nagoya, Japan—Cebu Pacific, the country’s largest budget airline, is studying flights between Clark International Airport and Japan as it seeks to tap growing demand amid congestion in Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).

Tomohiko Matsumoto, Cebu Pacific’s Japan country manager, told reporters the airline was keen on opening more hubs across the Philippines to reach more passengers.

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“Manila is too full so for us to grow more, we need to have more hubs,” Matsumoto said. He said Cebu Pacific was already operating flights between Cebu and key destinations in Japan.

“I think another one is Clark,” Matsumoto said.

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Asked whether Cebu Pacific could launch its first Japan route out of Clark this year, he said this was “not impossible.”

The airline has benefited from moves by the Japanese government, which is targeting 40 million visitors by 2020, to lure more tourists around the world.

Matsumoto said Cebu Pacific carried about 1.1 million people between the Philippines and Japan last year and the figure was set to grow in 2019.

Expansion plans are in sync with the airline’s overall strategy to recapture market share as it takes delivery of more planes this year.

Cebu Pacific, part of the Gokongwei family’s JG Summit Holdings Inc., will receive 12 brand new planes, including six higher capacity and fuel efficient Airbus A321neos. It will also take delivery of five A320neos and one ATR 72-600.

With the new aircraft, Cebu Pacific is studying flights to India, Russia, Sapporo in Japan and more locations in Australia.

“I think the next three years will see us claw back a lot of the share that we’ve lost and we want to introduce a lot of new routes that we haven’t been able to because we just didn’t have enough aircraft,” Cebu Pacific CEO Lance Gokongwei said last Jan. 31.

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Cebu Pacific ended 2018 with a fleet of 71 planes comprised of 36 A320ceos, eight A330s, seven A321ceos and 20 ATR 72-600s.

By 2022, Cebu Pacific expects to have 83 planes. The backbone of the expanded fleet would be its 27 A321neos, followed by 18 A320ceos, eight A330s, seven A321ceos, five A320neos, 16 ATR 72-600s and two ATR CFs.

The domestic aviation industry is banking on private sector efforts to modernize and expand major air gateways, particularly in Luzon.

With Naia operating well above its design capacity, a super consortium is targeting to start work on crucial upgrades that will expand the airport’s design capacity by 60 percent in four years. Naia Consortium’s members include the owners of Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines.

The government also awarded the long-term concession of Clark Airport to a consortium that includes Singapore’s Changi Group, JG Summit and Filinvest Development Corp. Also in the pipeline is the massive airport proposal in Bulacan province by conglomerate San Miguel Corp.

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TAGS: Business, Cebu Pacific, Clark, Japan
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