Cebu Pacific refocuses strategy on long haul destinations-A A +A
Friday, September 13, 2013
MANILA -- Budget airline Cebu Pacific Air Inc. (Cebu Pacific) is presently refocusing its strategy on long-haul destinations, including Europe and the United States, as it pushes through with its P4-billion refleeting program.
An initial step will be the launch of the airline's daily direct flight to Dubai from Manila on October 7, utilizing its newly-acquired aircraft, the long-range Airbus A330 that has the capacity to service long-haul flights.
The airline celebrated the arrival of its brand new Airbus A330-300 aircraft from Toulouse, France, in a ceremony held here on Thursday. It was Cebu Pacific's second Airbus A330 aircraft delivery this year, in time for the launch of the airline's long-haul operations next month.
"Today marks another milestone for Cebu Pacific, as we celebrate the introduction of the Airbus A330-300 into Cebu Pacific's growing fleet. Since we started international operations, our focus has always been to fly where Filipinos are. With our flights to Dubai, using this brand-new Airbus A330 aircraft, we can bring Global Filipinos home faster, not just to Manila but wherever they may be in the Philippines," Cebu Pacific chief executive officer and president Lance Gokongwei said.
Cebu Pacific offers passenger fares that are up to 35 percent lower than other carriers for its Manila-Dubai flight.
In a press briefing shortly after the ceremony, Gokongwei announced they are now in the middle of the company's P4-billion refleeting program in a bid to intensify its long haul operations.
At present, he said they are considering flying to Europe and the United States and talks are now ongoing, especially with the European Union, as to the airline's intention to fly to the continent.
"We are working to acquire a certification to be able to fly to Europe... In November we are going to make a formal presentation to EU authorities," he told reporters.
For its plan to serve the US market, Gokongwei said they have yet to obtain necessary regulatory approvals, adding that such plan may not be realized in the near future.
"We need aircraft that has the capacity to fly to the US, especially in the West Coast. At present, we only have the Airbus A330 that has the capacity to fly for only 10 hours," he said.
But Gokongwei was quick to add they are looking at certain routes outside the US mainland as their initial target such as Guam and Hawaii that can both be reached using the Airbus A330.
Between 2013 to 2021, the airline is expected to double its fleet as it is set to take delivery of four more long-range Airbus A330 aircraft, 15 more brand new A320 and 30 A321. The airline at present has a fleet of 47 aircraft, consisting of 10 Airbus A319, 27 Airbus A320, two Airbus A330 and eight ATR-72 500 aircraft.
The airline's non-stop, direct Manila-Dubai service will be the fastest way to reach Manila and make same day connections with Cebu Pacific's extensive Philippine route network.
"We estimate over half a million Filipinos are working and living in the United Arab Emirates, and this figure is bound to increase in the future," said Alex Reyes, Cebu Pacific vice president for long haul operations.
He said the airline is also looking at other countries in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia with 1.5 million Filipinos working or living there.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 14, 2013.