Cebu Pacific keen on PAL entitlements to UAE
Budget carrier Cebu Pacific wants to take over several idle flight entitlements of flag carrier Philippine Airlines to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the Gokongwei airline prepares to start its long-haul flights.
Documents from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) showed that Cebu Pacific, the country’s largest airline in terms of passengers flown, has applied for the reallocation of seven of PAL’s 14 weekly flights to UAE.
At present, no local carrier flies to the Middle East, although PAL is the only local airline with rights to fly to the UAE or any other Arab state.
PAL’s corporate communications office said the UAE entitlements were not being used at present, even via code-share agreements with other airlines.
Officials declined to say whether PAL would oppose Cebu Pacific request.
Aside from its petition for the rights to fly to the UAE, Cebu Pacific has also applied for rights to operate to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Cebu Pacific was earlier allowed to mount flights to Palau.
Cebu Pacific plans to start long-haul operations by the third quarter of next year.
In February, the company signed a lease agreement for four brand-new Airbus A330 jets, which have longer flight range than Cebu Pacific’s current fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft.
Cebu Pacific president and CEO Lance Gokongwei said the company planned to reach out to all areas around the world that have significant concentration of Filipino workers. These include cities in Europe, the Middle East, Australia and, if possible, the United States.
He said flying to these largely untapped markets would be Cebu Pacific’s main advantage over other budget carriers that had so far been unsuccessful in long-haul ventures.
Malaysian budget carrier giant Air Asia X, a unit of Air Asia Berhad, stopped unprofitable flights to European cities Paris and London, due to high fuel costs.
Despite challenges caused by the rising cost of fuel, local air travel is seen continuing to grow at double-digit rates in 2012.
In terms of passenger count, the country’s aviation sector grew by nearly 12 percent last year, outpacing the rest of the world, which expanded by a modest 6 percent.
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