Cebu Pacific seeks PAL’s slots to Haneda in Japan

The largest budget carrier in the Philippines is seeking to corner two of the unutilized frequencies of its main rival to Haneda, Japan.

In a letter to the Civil Aeronautics Board, Cebu Pacific External Affairs Manager Mary Rose Grace S. Donato-Lim explained why her airline should be granted the two frequencies to Tokyo’s premier airport.

First, the airline aims to further stimulate the Japanese market by adding a new route to its extensive network in Japan.

Since the liberalization of air services between Japan and the Philippines in 2013, Cebu Pacific expanded its operations in the Land of the Rising Sun.

It now flies four times weekly to Nagoya, five times a week to Osaka, and seven times per week to Narita in Tokyo out of Manila. It also operates the Cebu-Tokyo-Manila route for four times a week.

Now, it aims to launch services to Fukuoka in the remaining part of the winter of 2015.

These, she said, has contributed significant to tourism revenues of both countries.

“Cebu Pacific wished to stimulate this market further by adding Tokyo—Haneda—as another route,” she said.

The Gokongwei-led carrier, in September 2013, sought for the allocation of flights to Haneda. However, the government granted all 14 Haneda frequencies to Philippine Airlines (PAL).

But the national flag carrier failed to fully utilize its Haneda frequencies, hence, Cebu Pacific pleaded for the reallocation of PAL’s unutilized entitlements for the Manila-Haneda route.

The Tan-led carrier, however, manifested that it will resume operating the unutilized entitlements.

Thus, Cebu Pacific moved that its petition be archived in the meantime. But a few months later, the legacy carrier was not able to use the frequencies, prompting Cebu Pacific to revive its petition for reallocation.

Despite this, the air-services regulator still denied the budget carrier’s petition, while warning its rival to use the entitlements by March this year.

Yet, PAL still has not fully utilized the entitlements, contrary to its earlier manifestation. To date, the flag carrier has yet to use the two remaining frequencies.

“In view of this, Cebu Pacific respectfully requests for the reallocation two weekly frequencies on route Manila-Haneda-Manila. Cebu Pacific is confident that it will be able to further service Japan market not only for the benefit of the numerous OFWs [overseas Filipino workers] based in Japan, but also to bring more tourist from Japan to the Philippine and vice versa,” Donato-Lim said.

“Cebu Pacific is capable and willing to operate at Haneda route as early as Winter Schedule 2015 provided the requested entitlements are granted,” she added.

PAL officials were not available for comment.

Cebu Air Inc. saw profits rise by more than two-thirds in the first semester of 2015, thanks to savings generated from the decline in the price of fuel.

The operator of budget carrier Cebu Pacific booked P5.2 billion in net profits during the first six months of the year, a 63.6-percent increase from the P3.18 billion the year prior.

In the same comparative periods, the company registered 10.4-percent increase in revenues to P29.51 billion and a 1.2-percent decline in operating expenses to P23.47 billion.  The robust top line was fueled by the increase in passenger, ancillary, and cargo revenues generated during the period.

Cebu Pacific and sister airline Cebgo flew 9.2 million passengers during the six-month period, 8.2 percent more versus the 8.5 million customers in 2014.

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