As air fares go up, airlines dangle early bookings for flights

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star
As air fares go up, airlines dangle early bookings for flights
A commercial plane lands at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on January 26, 2024.
STAR / Ernie Penaredondo

MANILA, Philippines — As worries that air fares may rise in the coming months, the country’s top carriers are urging travelers to book their flights early to take advantage of cheaper prices.

Based on the monitoring of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), jet fuel prices have gone up by five percent to $114.59 per barrel as of Feb. 9 from a month earlier.

As such, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) decided to raise the fuel surcharge that airlines can collect from passengers to Level 6 in March, from Level 5 in February.

Under Level 6, airlines may slap a fuel surcharge of P185 to P665 for domestic trips and P610.37 to P4,538.4 for international flights. When compared, Level 5 imposes a fuel surcharge of P151 to P543 for local and P498.03 to P3,703.11 for overseas.

CAB told airlines wishing to apply the fuel surcharge to file their application with the agency before March. Further, CAB asked operators collecting air fares in foreign currency to keep an exchange rate of P56.14 to $1.

In its analysis, IATA said the worsening geopolitical tensions and growing product shortages are propelling the increase in petroleum prices.

IATA flagged the Red Sea crisis as one of the reasons for the spike in jet fuel prices, lamenting it makes trade between Asia and Europe tougher than usual.

Houthi pirates from Yemen are attacking shipping vessels going through the Red Sea, one of the most critical passages between Asia and Europe.

In response, Cebu Pacific president and chief commercial officer Alexander Lao urged passengers to book their trips in advance to get the cheapest rates possible. The airline will also conduct seat sales to bring down base fares with the fuel surcharge up.

Cebu Pacific also expects the usual demand boom for summer travel this year. Lao said the bulk of the demand might come in the early part of the season, as the Holy Week is set in March unlike last year when it fell in April.

Philippine Airlines spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said the flag carrier would be able to sustain the demand for air travel through its flight network that goes as far as Canada and the US.

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