No need for additional fastcraft trips during MassKara Festival

UNLIKE in the previous years, a fastcraft vessel operator on Sunday, October 7, said there is no need to add more trips from Bacolod City to Iloilo City and vice versa this month during the celebration of the MassKara Festival.

Frank Carbon, operator of Weesam Express, said there is another impending increase of P1.50 per liter on pump prices of petroleum products, especially diesel.

Carbon said with this kind of trend in fuel costs, they are not expecting a substantial increase in the volume of passengers from Iloilo and other Panay provinces because of soaring prices.

"We will end up losing money," he said, adding "in fact, we are not increasing our rate yet just to maintain our existing volume and maintain our profit margin."

Currently, Weesam Express and two other fastcrafts, Ocean Jet and 2Go Travel, have a total of 23 departure trips per day which can cater to about 5,000 passengers.

The three fastcraft vessels, however, are only hitting 2,300 to 2,500 passengers on weekdays.

This accounts for about 50 percent load utilization only. Meaning, units are half full and half empty.

On weekends, fastcrafts are carrying only 60 to 70 percent of the total volume capacity.

"This is not a good signal to add more trips," Carbon said, adding they are not expecting an increase on the number of passengers from Panay. Instead, it may come from other regions.

Carbon, also the chief executive officer of Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), said Panay is still reeling from the closure of Boracay Island in Aklan.

The business leader said they are projecting the Western Visayas economy to shrink especially amid the increasing inflation.

Inflation is the sustained increase in the general price level of goods and services.

For September, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported an inflation rate of 6.7 percent, higher than 6.4 percent in August.

The PSA said the uptrend was primarily brought about by the heavily-weighted food and non-alcoholic beverages index which further accelerated to 9.7 percent in September this year.

Relative to the annual rates in the previous month, annual increases were also higher in the indices of the commodity groups like alcoholic beverages and tobacco, 21.8 percent; clothing and footwear, 2.5 percent; furnishing, household equipment and routine maintenance of the house, 3.6 percent; health, 4.1 percent; transport, 8.0 percent; communication, 0.5 percent; and recreation and culture, 3.0 percent.

All regions outside the National Capital Region (NCR), including Western Visayas, registered higher annual inflation in September 2018 compared with their previous month’s annual changes, it added.

Earlier, the local business sector expressed worries over surging inflation as higher prices of goods and services are already "hurting" the public especially the lower and middle classes.

Carbon said demand will slow down on service sector because of soaring food prices.

"About 60 to 70 percent of the masses' income goes to food, education, and utilities," he said, adding that "not much left for leisure travel and entertainment."


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