PAL leads international flights; passenger traffic up 11.6% in Q1
If Gokongwei-led budget carrier Cebu Pacific leads the domestic passenger airlines industry, Philippine Airlines, now controlled by San Miguel, continue to ferry more international passengers in the first quarter

MANILA, Philippines – Cheaper fares and additional capacity mounted by airlines operating international flights contributed to the 11.63% growth in total passengers in the first 3 months of the year.

Data from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) showed that 4.3 million passengers flew international flights in the first quarter 2012 from 3.85 million in the same period in 2011.

Of the 4,299,044 passengers recorded from January to March this year,

  • 2,053,873 – passengers who arrived in the country
  • 2,245,171 – passengers who flew out
  • 191,298 – net outflow of passengers

“The traffic improved because the airline industry as a whole is improving. Many airlines, whether local or foreign, also offer cheaper fares and add more flights and the appetite to travel via airplane came back,” said CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla.

The country’s oldest airline, Philippine Airlines (PAL), topped the international passenger traffic, while Gokongwei-led Cebu Pacific trailed in the second place.

The local airlines experienced the following quarter-on-quarter growth rates:

  • Philipine Airlines – 9%
  • Cebu Pacific – 18%
  • Zest Air – 73%

The top 10 foreign and local carriers that ferried passengers in their international flights for the period were:

Top 10 international carriers    Passengers in Jan-Mar 2012
Philippine Airlines 1,097,272
Cebu Pacific 604,175
Cathay Pacific Airways 357,587
Singapore Airlines 162,837
Asiana Airlines 156,507
Emirates Air 149,923
Delta/Northwest Airlines 101,859
Korean Air 159,960
Etihad Airways 130,872
Jetstar Asia 82,461
Japan Airlines 68,734
China Airlines 65,021
Zest Air 68,991

Earlier, Arcilla said the aviation industry will continue to post double-digit growth this year on the back of a strong investment climate.
“There are no signs of slowing down. The industry is on a continued growth path by double digit still. It will be in the range of 12% to 15%, maybe even more,” he said.

He said the presence of foreign airlines, Air Asia for instance, is definitely going to boost air travel.

Malaysia-headquartered Air Asia set up a local unit, Air Asia Philippines, which has set up a hub in Clark, about 80 kilometers north of Metro Manila.

Its maiden flights are scheduled in September this year. “This is an example of investor confidence in our country,” added Arcilla.
Aside from interest of foreign airlines to expand their presence in the country, Arcilla cited competition among local airlines as another factor that will boost air travel.
The CAB official said passenger traffic for both domestic and international routes will continue to improve this year as airlines bring down air fare. “When fares go down then naturally many people are entice to travel. We witnessed this last year and there will be more promo offerings this year given the stiff competition among airlines,” said Arcilla.
Previously, CAB reported that local airlines experienced a 13% increase in passenger traffic in the first quarter.

CAB’s Arcilla attributed the increase to similar reasons — promotional fares and expansions domestic airlines.

Gokongwei-led Cebu Pacific Air continued to carry the most number of domestic passengers, accounting for 52.5% of the total 5,198,898 passengers during the period.

PAL, on the other hand, remained the far second with 21% of the local market. –

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