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Seair forms new company for domestic operations

MANILA, Philippines - After divesting its international operations to Tiger Airways, low-cost carrier Southeast Asian Airlines (Seair) has formed another airline to handle its domestic operations.

Seair president and CEO Avelino DL Zapanta told The STAR on the sidelines of the First Philippine Tourism Forum that the new airline company, Seair International Inc., would handle its domestic flights as Tiger Airways, which recently bought majority stake of Seair, would be in-charge of Seair international operations.

“The deal with Tiger Airways Holdings in effect will handle the regional market with airbus equipment. They really do not want to have anything to do with turbo craft operations because low-cost carriers always go for a commonality of having same type of aircraft,” he said.

Zapanta said they expect to start the operation of the new airline within the fourth quarter of this year.

“We can’t abandon our operation in the exotic destinations like Basco, Caticlan, El Nido and Busuanga so we decided to set up to continue on with that mission. So we have set up that another airline. It will be operational by October or November this year, that represents growth in the local airline industry because instead of five, we now have six airlines,” he added.

He said the operation of Seair International is a manifestation of the growing local airline industry.

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“We recently sold big part of Seair to Tiger Airway that is a manifestation of growth, as Tiger Airways of Singapore took interest in the way we are expanding and growing,” he said. “It gave birth to another airline because we have sold a big part of Seair to Tiger Airways, we have set up another airline Seair International, we are making that grow as well,” he added.

According to Zapanta, Seair is also set to relaunch destinations and/or new re-routing flights. Zapanta refused to disclose them at the moment.

Seair operates two Airbus A319s and three A320s. It has been in operation in the Philippines for 17 years and now flies to four regional and nine domestic destinations.

“We want to live up to our legacy of being one of the pioneering airlines in the Philippines. We’ve been here for a long time and we do not want to stop providing pioneering efforts in the airline industry,” he added.

He said they are also planning to beef up their fleet to be able to launch the new routes.

“We are currently studying the possibilities of offering new routes. We will announce it appropriately. But just imagine for example, you can now fly non-stop to destinations not yet being serviced by other airlines like from Manila to Jolo and/or Manila to Tawi-tawi,” he said.

Before Tiger Airways’ entry, Seair flies from Manila to Cebu, Davao, Tacloban, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa, Bacolod, and Boracay via the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). Its international destinations include Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, and Kota Kinabalu via the Clark International Airport in Pampanga.

In August 2012, Tiger Airways, through wholly-owned subsidiary Roar Aviation II Pte Ltd., acquired a 40-percent stake in Seair for a total consideration of $2.5 million.

The investment in Seair is Tiger’s second joint venture after it acquired a 33 percent stake in Mandala Airlines in Indonesia last January.

Tiger earlier said the acquisitions are part of its strategy for expansion in the region and that Seair would be adopting the Tiger business model that includes offering value fares for domestic and international destinations within a five-hour flying radius of Manila and Clark, its current hubs.

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