Cebu airline announces expansion

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Monday, October 17, 2011


ENCOURAGED by the growing number of foreign and local tourists who prefer faster travel to island destinations, Cebu-based local carrier Mid-Sea Express announced its expansion to the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Davao.

The company also said it is scheduled to get a new aircraft before the end of the year.

Mid-Sea Express general manager Erlon Ryan Libiran said they are optimistic about their business prospects because of the growing demand for short hub flights in the aviation industry. He said foreign and local tourists prefer faster transport services to the country’s island destinations.

Mid-Sea Express is a new player in the aviation industry. It first served the Cebu-Bohol route since it started operation this year. The company later added new routes to Bantayan, Camiguin, Siquijor and Caticlan.

Unserved areas

“The goal is to mount flights on unserved areas,” Libiran said during the company’s launching last Friday.

Libiran said their airlines operate on a non-scheduled basis, allowing them to cater to a particular niche market. He said Koreans, who compose Cebu’s top travel market, are among their leading clients.

Cebu recorded 206,885 Korean arrivals in the first seven months of this year.

According to the company, it wanted to promote tourism within smaller islands while still serving the routes and destinations that are in high demand.

“With the large and increasing tourist demand in Bohol, the Cebu-Bohol flights are helping increase the island’s chances of making a name among the world’s travelers, just as Boracay recently did in a recent worldwide publication,” the company said.

The company currently maintains two planes with a combined capacity of 18 passengers.

Mid-Sea Express flies 400 to 500 passengers a month. Later this year, Libiran said the company will mount additional flights to the cities of Davao and Cagayan de Oro.

The has purchased a 21-seater British Aesrospace Jetstream 32,which it expected to be delivered next month.

The new aircraft will complement its existing routes from Cebu to Bantayan, Bohol, Siquijor and Camiguin.

Urgent issues

The company also expects the delivery of a 107-seater Fokker 100 by the third quarter of 2012.

While the company expressed optimism in the industry, Libiran said the government should address urgent issues besetting the industry such as the open skies policy and the aviation safety system.

“The industry’s downgrade by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to Category 2 hinders airline carriers from mounting flights to other countries and bringing additional foreign tourists to the country. This would also hinder small players like us from getting into their network and system,” Libiran said.

While the open skies policy is beneficial to the industry, Libiran said it should include reciprocity to also allow small players to serve other countries.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 18, 2011.

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