Philippine’s low-cost carrier, Cebu Pacific Air, has shared its hopes for further Australian expansion once the cap on capacity between Australia and the Philippines is lifted, following its recent announcement to commence direct flights between Sydney and Manila in September.
With the inaugural flight set to take place on 9September, Cebu Pacific will operate its new service between Manila and Sydney, with four flights per week, on the airline’s brand new Airbus A330-300 aircraft, with an all-economy class of 436 seats.
“The number of Australian leisure travellers heading to the Philippines has more than doubled in the past nine years, with a 25 per cent growth in the past two years, and significant growth in the number of Filipinos travelling from Australia to visit family and for business and we expect this to expand greatly as we will be the only low-cost carrier offering this route,” Cebu Pacific Air general manager long-haul division Alex Reyes said.
The new service will provide travellers from Australia with seamless onward connections to other destinations in the Philippines and a fifth weekly service is also scheduled to start in December in order to meet peak season demand, with further plans to go daily already in the works.
Meanwhile, the airline’s hopes of further expansion into Australia, namely Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne, remain on hold due to the current Philippines-Australia air services agreement allowing for a 6,000 seat capacity per week, which is already used up by Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines and Qantas.
Mr Reyes compared this figure to Malaysia and Thailand which currently have a capacity of about 38,000 and more than 28,000, respectively, and says the Philippine government supports a lifting on the cap with a promising outlook.
Furthermore, the Philippines is also negotiating new air services agreements with other countries, with Cebu Pacific submitting an application for increased seat capacity to Taiwan and Thailand as part of its strategy to increase its presence in Asia, with a decision expected this month.
Cebu Pacific Air, which currently operates 26 international and 36 domestic destinations, will focus on international expansion for 2014 and 2015, as it aims to increase its passenger numbers from 13 million in 2013 to 17 million in 2014, and recently reported an eight percent increase in passenger volume for the first half of 2014, compared to the same period last year.