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No ‘cruel summer’ for PAL as Swifties fill flights

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star
No �cruel summer� for PAL as Swifties fill flights
An airplane is captured preparing for landing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on March 7, 2024.
STAR / Russell Palma

MANILA, Philippines — Fans of US music royalty Taylor Swift, collectively called Swifties, can’t seem to shake off the excitement of watching her in concert as flag carrier Philippine Airlines’ bookings to Singapore went with almost no blank space in flights.

PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna told The STAR that Manila flights to Singapore logged a 20 percent jump in load factor in the first week of March, when Swift made her lone stop in Southeast Asia for The Eras Tour.

The load factor, or the percentage of seats sold against slots available, is a measure used by airlines to grasp the demand for a certain period.

Swift performed to the delight of fans in Southeast Asia when she brought The Eras Tour to Singapore on March 2, 3, 4, 7, 8 and 9. Swifties flocked to Singapore to attend the concert as it was the singer’s only stop in the region.

“Our Manila flights to Singapore in the first week of March experienced a load factor increase of 20 percent from the same period last year. This can be attributed to the surge of passengers (who) traveled to Singapore to attend Taylor Swift’s concerts,” Villaluna said.

PAL raised the level of its promotion by handing out friendship bracelets to travelers bound for Singapore last week.

As a tradition, Swifties create friendship bands, using a variety of colors and spelling out Swift’s catchphrases, which they swap with fellow concert attendees.

“To rev up the excitement, we gave away friendship bracelets to passengers on the route, much to their delight,” Villaluna said.

For PAL, the surge in Singapore flights means the airline got a headstart in its push to bolster its summer bookings. As with any domestic airline, PAL expects the demand for air travel to go up between March and May, as Filipinos visit tourist spots to take advantage of the dry season.

PAL boasts the widest network of international flights in the Philippines, reaching as far as North America. The flag carrier owned by taipan Lucio Tan flies to Singapore daily.

Other local airlines also hopped on the Swift train, with Cebu Pacific changing the flight number of one of their Singapore-bound trips to 5J 1989, referencing Swift’s birth year that inspired the title of her fifth album.

A study commissioned by Visa showed that Filipinos rank as the fourth highest concert spender in Asia and the Pacific, trailing only those from India, Vietnam and Indonesia.

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