CebuPac eyes more Phl-Japan routes
Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) - February 11, 2019 - 12:00am

NAGOYA, Japan – Low cost carrier Cebu Pacific plans to capitalize on the sustained growth in the movement of tourists between the Philippines and Japan as it explores the possibility of opening more routes to Japan in line with its fleet expansion program.

“We always look at the points where possible new routes are. But we have to study the capacity plus the Manila slots. So we have to make the study on how we make the new routes in the Philippines successful,” Cebu Air Inc. country manager for Japan Tomohiko Matsumoto said.

Matsumoto said a Manila to Sapporo flight is among those being considered to be opened by the Gokongwei-owned carrier, especially with the arrival of its first Airbus A321neo last month.

“We are not able to fly from Manila to Sapporo because the flying hours is too long for an A320 or ceo (current engine option), so the neo (new engine option) has to be the one to be deployed. With the coming neo, it was just delivered last month, so that makes it physically possible to fly,” he said.

Aside from Sapporo, Matsumoto said Cebu Pacific is also considering opening a Manila to Haneda route to further beef up its Tokyo flights currently being served by Manila-Narita and Cebu-Narita routes.

“We like to fly (in Haneda) but just like Manila case, it is very tight in slots so it has to be negotiated by government to government. It’s a traffic rights issue. Our head office has to lobby Philippine government to have a negotiation with Japanese government,” he said.

“We are of course eyeing those destinations and new routes, but those depend on deliveries. In the last 10 years, the airline has been facing some issues in aircraft delivery. So those plan has really to be fit with the aircraft deliveries,” Matsumoto said.

Cebu Pacific is set to receive 12 brand new aircraft within the year to support the carrier’s expansion plans. The aircraft deliveries include six Airbus A321neo, five A320neo, and an ATR 72-600.

Cebu Pacific’s fleet is currently comprised of an Airbus A321neo, 36 Airbus A320, seven Airbus A321ceo, eight Airbus A330, eight ATR 72-500, and 12 ATR 72-600 aircraft.

By 2022, Cebu Pacific intends to grow its fleet to 83, 27 of which are A321neos, from 71 as of end-2018.

According to Matsumoto, traffic between the Philippines and Japan has been increasing in recent years as more Japanese destinations are becoming more popular in most Filipinos, and more Filipino sites are also becoming more attractive to Japanese tourists.

He said Cebu Pacific’s current share of the total Philippine-Japan market is at over 10 percent.

“Filipino visitors to Japan has been rapidly growing in the last five years. Every year, there are almost 70,000 to 80,000 visitors increasing and last year reaches half a million. Japanese visitors to the Philippines are also increasing. It was not as rapid as Filipinos coming to Japan but about 40,000 to 50,000 people increasing every year for the last three to four years,” Matsumoto said.

Cebu Pacific and subsidiary Cebgo currently fly to 36 domestic and 26 international destinations, with over 107 routes spanning Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and the US.

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