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Phl air traffic inches up in 2013

MANILA, Philippines - The volume of passengers in the Philippines grew by a paltry one percent last year amid the realignment being undertaken by domestic carriers as well as the series of events and inclement weather that led to the cancellation of several flights.

In a report, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) said the volume of domestic and international passengers reached 37.67 million last year or 345,444 more than the previous year’s 37.31 million.

The latest growth figure was in sharp contrast to the double-digit 11.7-percent growth in air traffic to 37.31 million in 2012 from 33.42 million in 2011.

Budget airline Cebu Air Inc. (Cebu Pacific) flew the most number of passengers last year with 13.06 million or 6.9 percent higher than the 12.21 million it serviced in 2012.

The volume of passengers flown by national flag carrier Philippine Airlines Inc. and wholly-owned subsidiary PAL Express fell 11.7 percent to 11.2 million last year from 12.68 million due to the streamlining of operations after diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) bought into the airline.

PAL, jointly owned by taipan Lucio Tan and SMC, serviced 6.73 million passengers last year or 16.4 percent lower compared to 8.05 million in 2012 while PAL Express flew 4.47 million or 3.4 percent less compared with 4.63 million. PAL has transferred most of its domestic flights to PAL Express last Aug. 1 to focus on international routes.

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CAB reported that volume of domestic passengers declined by 1.1 percent to 20.33 million last year from 20.57 million in 2012 due to inclement weather and the incident in Davao that led to the closure of the international airport for three days.

Cebu Pacific ferried the most number of domestic passengers with 10.24 million followed by PAL Express with 4.35 million, PAL with 2.58 million, AirAsia Zest with 1.99 million, and Tiger Airways Philippines with 969,753.

CAB deputy executive director Porvenir Porciuncula cited the series of events such as the closure of the Davao City international airport in June, the attack of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga last September, the earthquake in Bohol province last October, Super Typhoon Yolanda last November, among others.

“These events resulted to the closure of several airports and cancellation of several flights for several days,” Porciuncula said.

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