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Airline sector counts on domestic travel
Source: Inquirer
Author: Riza T. Olchondra
Date: 2009-06-10
MANILA, Philippines—With domestic passenger numbers up by double digits in the first quarter of 2009, the country’s airline industry counts on local travelers for growth amid a gloomy international travel market.

First-quarter data from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) show that international passenger volume fell by 5 percent but domestic volume surged by 22 percent from last year.

International travelers numbered 2.9 million from 3.03 million last year. In contrast, domestic travelers outnumbered overseas travelers at 3.4 million, up from 2.8 million last year.

CAB Deputy Director Porvenir Porciuncula said the decline in international travel was not surprising given the global economic downturn. The improvement in local travel was a welcome respite, he said.

“It shows that efforts of the government and the industry to open new routes and make services more accessible to Filipinos are paying off,” he said.

“Local airlines can focus on getting more local customers with affordable ticket prices and more choices in terms of flights,” he said.

Zest Airways president and CEO Alfredo Yao agreed that the domestic travel market would be key to the continued growth of the industry and of his company in particular.

“We are, of course, looking at international expansion but domestic travel is really fueling our business right now,” he said.

SeAir president and CEO Avelino Zapanta expressed optimism that local travelers could pull up the local airline industry to a double-digit growth this year.

Budget carrier Cebu Pacific also expects growth.

It is increasing its female flight crew by more than half as it added more than 100 flights this year. This is in sharp contrast with the downsizing strategy adopted by most companies to cope with the financial crisis.

The budget carrier seeks 250 additional flight attendants to add to the current 428.

Cebu Pacific has a fleet of 10 A319 and 11 A320 Airbus aircraft and eight turbo-prop ATR 72 aircraft. It expects to take delivery of two more ATR aircraft this year for more inter-island routes.

These should help the airline fly 9 million passengers this year, up from 6.7 million in 2008.

In the first quarter, Cebu Pacific’s domestic passenger base grew to 1.59 million from 1.2 million a year ago. Its international passenger traffic reached 379,245, from last year’s 336,246.

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines, meanwhile, is using the Filipinos’ attachment to the mobile phone to touch base with customers.

Beginning May 15, PAL has made available flight schedules, promo fares, advisories, products and services, including mileage points to users of mobile handsets that support WAP (wireless access protocol).

The information can be accessed through the WAP site

[ Cebu Pacific Wiki | Seair Wiki | Philippine Airlines Wiki ]


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