MANILA, Philippines –The airline business of tycoon John Gokongwei saw a surge in passenger volume in the first 4 months of the year, as it expanded its fleet and increased flights.
The volume of passengers carried by budget airline Cebu Air Incorporated (Cebu Pacific) and Cebgo (formerly Tiger Airways Philippines) grew 11.1% from January to April.
Based on its operating statistics, Cebu Pacific and Cebgo flew 5.97 million passengers from January to April this year, higher than the 5.37 million passengers recorded in the same period last year.
The number of flights increased 12.4% to 44,395 from 39,489, as the number of aircraft also increased to 55 from 54. The capacity of the low cost carrier jumped 15.75% to 7.37 million from 6.37 million.
This translated to a lower load factor of 81.1% in the first 4 months of 2015 from 84.4% in the same period last year. Load factor is a measure of plane occupancy.
For April alone, the volume of passengers carried by Cebu Pacific and Cebgo rose 6.7% to 1.69 million from 1.58 million as the number of flights rose 7.6% to 11,667 from 10,847.
The capacity of both airlines went up by 9.6% to 1.94 million from 1.77 million, translating to a lower load factor of 87.1% from 89.5%.
Cebu Pacific president Lance Gokongwei earlier said the airlines are expected to carry 18 million passengers this year on the back of low fares combined with more domestic routes as well as the launch of more long-haul destinations this year.
“I think we are shooting for about 18 million for both Cebu Pacific and Cebgo,” Gokongwei said.
This year’s target is 6.5% higher than the number of passengers serviced by the airlines last year. Both airlines flew 16.9 million passengers in 2014 or 17.5% higher compared to 14.35 million in 2013.
“I think the growth will come from some increases in domestic and short haul. In terms of percentage increase the greatest increase will come from the long haul,” Gokongwei added.
Cebu Pacific launched direct flights to Doha, Qatar, on June 4, beefing up its long-haul routes including Dubai, Riyadh, Sydney, and Kuwait.
Gokongwei said the budget carrier is looking at mounting direct flights to Hawaii and Guam this year.
Cebu Pacific serves 55 domestic routes and 36 international routes with a total of 2,597 scheduled weekly flights. It operates from 7 hubs: the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Mactan-Cebu International Airport, Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, Davao International Airport, Iloilo International Airport, and the Kalibo International Airport.
It operates a fleet of 55 Airbus aircraft with an average age of 4.41 years consisting of 10 Airbus A319, 31 A320, 6 A330, and 8 ATR 72-500 aircraft. It is scheduled to take delivery of 7 more brand-new Airbus A320 and 30 Airbus A321neo aircraft between 2015 and 2021, under its ongoing $4-billion fleet renewal program. – Rappler.com
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