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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Airphil Express sets regional flights amid PAL’s labor woes

AIR Philippines, Philippine Airlines owner Lucio Tan’s budget carrier, becomes a regional airline in October, when it starts flying to Singapore following the city-state’s grant of more seats to Philippine carriers serving the Manila-Singapore route.

“There is no better choice than Singapore for our first regional route as the city-state itself is a gateway to Asia,” Bettina de Vera, the airline’s corporate communications manager, said earlier.

“Adding Singapore to our network certainly represents a major milestone in our growth.”

Singapore allowed Air Philippines and Zest Airways Inc. to mount one flight each daily to the city-state while adding 2,647 seats to the 11,200 it had previously granted to Philippine carriers serving the Manila-Singapore route.

Singapore also doubled its seat entitlements to Clark to 20,000 seats a week from 10,000, and likewise doubled its seat allocation to 10,000 a week to points outside Manila and Clark, said Carmelo Arcilla, executive director of the Civil Aeronautics Board.

“We will enforce a use-it-or-lose-it policy,” he said, adding his agency will withdraw the entitlements of those carriers not using them.

Arcilla said Singapore gave flag carrier Philippine Airlines 700 seats. The airline flies to Singapore 28 times a week and charges $250 to $800 depending on cabin class.

Budget carrier Cebu Pacific Air, which flies to Singapore 25 times a week, was given a maximum of 908 seats a day. The airline charges a minimum P4,000 on the route, and last year it flew about 375,000 passengers to Singapore and back.

Zest Air was supposed to launch flights to Singapore earlier this year, but it postponed the service to November following a delay in the delivery of aircraft to it. The carrier expects delivery of one aircraft in July and another in October, and it will use an Airbus 320 to fly to Singapore and back five times a week.

Airphil Express will also use an Airbus A-320 to mount daily flights to Singapore starting Oct. 27. The carrier started selling tickets for the route on Aug. 3, and for as low as P1,888.

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