A LOW-COST carrier is aiming for a share of the Cebu market as it opens its maiden flight between Manila and Cebu today, with additional frequencies within the year.

“We only opened our Manila-Cebu route today because we cannot compete in the Cebuano market if we do not prepare first a number of frequencies between the two places,” said Snooker Jaranilla, sales head of Airphil Express.

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Airphil Express, a sister-company of Philippine Airlines, will fly from Manila to Cebu at 9 p.m. and Cebu to Manila at 10:40 p.m. every day. An additional two flights will be opened on Oct. 1 and another one starting Oct. 28.

“The number of frequencies in Cebu depends on the new aircraft that will be arriving this year to cater to our customers,” said Maria Rodriguez Java, head of Airphil’s marketing arm.

New Airbus 320s are scheduled to arrive this year, one in September, two in October and another two in November. Airbus 320s will be used by the Cebu to Manila flight, with the end-of-business day schedules.

“The end-of-day flight schedule and choice of aircraft are crucial on these routes.

The larger cargo hold of the Airbus A320 allows Cebu-based business to load cargo to and from Manila at the end of every business day and straight to the market the next,” said Java.

Jojie Salaver, Airphil area manager of Southern Philippines said, “In Cebu, we have a different market, that is why we are using the red-eye flight or the end-of-business day flights.

Cargo is the main driver for our first flight.”

Airphil currently flies to 24 domestic destinations using their A320, the Bombardier Q300 and Bombardier Q400.

Bombardiers are used for flights to and from places like Caticlan, Cagayan de Oro, Calbayog, Catarman, Busuanga and Mindoro. Other destinations use A320 aircraft.

Flights between Cebu and Manila use the A320, which are also currently used by other low-cost carriers like Cebu Pacific and Zest Air.

“By assigning a fast, fuel-efficient, narrow-bodied jet like A320, Airphil is also able to better respond cost-wise to both passenger and cargo customers,” said Java.

One of the youngest fleets in the region, Airphil intends to respond to the market’s needs and focus on the good use of time and exceptional value for money, added Java.

Manila-Cebu flights cost as low as P850, including taxes while some domestic flights can go as low as P299.

“With the reintroduction of our brand last March, the company is committed to providing value for money to our customers,” said Salaver.

New domestic flights are being planned for General Santos, Tacloban and Dipolog while an international flight from Manila to Singapore will be opened within this year and Cebu to Singapore by next year.

“We will strengthen our international flights in the future.

This will include flights from Cebu to Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan,” added Salaver.