Thursday , May 24, 2018

Cebu-LA suspension hurts balikbayans

TOURISM stakeholders in Cebu are saddened over the recent decision of Philippine Airlines (PAL) to suspend its Cebu-Los Angeles-Cebu flight saying it will have impact on the balikbayan traffic.

Cebu Association of Tour Operator Specialists (Catos) president Alice Queblatin, suspected that the load factor might have influenced the decision of the Lucio Tan-led airlines to halt, albeit temporarily, the long-haul flight.

She noted though that there are passengers from the Visayas who still prefer to take the flight via Manila.

“Our experience saw that the passengers from other Central Visayas islands, like Bohol and Negros, who could have used the Cebu hub to the U.S., find the route via Manila more convenient with check thru luggage. The connectivity from ferry to airport turned to be inconvenient for them,” said Queblatin. In addition, she said passengers noted that the aircraft used for this long haul flight do not have enough amenities compared to other international airlines whose airfare could be cheaper.

PAL first launched the Cebu-Los Angeles flight last March 2016 as part of the company’s 75th anniversary celebrations. The thrice-weekly flight was the first direct flight between Cebu and a U.S. city. It offered a 254-seater facility with economy and business class seats on an A340 aircraft.

Hotel Resort and Restaurant Association in Cebu (HRRAC) has expressed sadness over PAL’s decision to pull out the route starting May 30 this year. Nevertheless, its president Carlo Suarez is confident that the airline’s support for Cebu as an international gateway remains strong with direct flights from Cebu to Japan, South Korea, China, and Singapore.

PAL, in a statement, said that the suspension of the Cebu-Los Angeles service is “being carried out as PAL rationalizes capacity on the route,” and that ticket holders who booked their flight on May 30 onwards may reroute or rebook their flights to Cebu-Manila-Los Angeles or Los Angeles-Manila Cebu or the airline will refund the cost of their tickets.

GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC), the private operator of the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) in a statement said it supports PAL’s decision to temporarily suspend its Cebu-Los Angeles route. Despite this, the airport operator said Cebu outbound passengers and Cebu transit passengers traveling to the U.S. remain to have multiple options through MCIA.

“We encourage our customers to remain updated on new upcoming routes throughout the year,” GMCAC added. with KOC