Following the successful negotiation with Japan for an increase in direct flights between the two countries, airlines in the Philippines are now battling for the right to operate the additional flights.
|Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG|
The new air agreement was signed on September 13 and permits unlimited flights between any Philippine destination outside of Manila and any destination in Japan outside of Haneda. Restrictions are placed on flights to Manila and Haneda due to existing congestion at the respective airports. In addition, the new agreement will permit an increase in flights between Manila and Narita from the current 119 up to 400 per week.
With the new flight entitlements available, Philippine carriers have filed a series of petitions with the Civil Aeronautics Board for permission to launch new routes to Japan. At present, the only Philippine carriers serving the Japanese market with direct flights are Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific. But that will soon change as new carriers enter the market.
The following new routes have been proposed to the Civil Aeronautics Board by Philippine Carriers:
- PHILIPPINE AIRLINES has requested 65 new round-trip flights between the Philippines and Japan. The carrier is planning 14 weekly flights between Manila and Haneda beginning in March 2014 as well as an increase in flights up to 14 weekly between Manila and Narita on October 27. Meanwhile, PAL Express plans 14 weekly flights each on Manila-Haneda and Manila-Narita routes along with 7 weekly flights on a Cebu-Narita route.
- CEBU PACIFIC is asking for the highest number of flight entitlements with a request for 80 weekly round-trips. The carrier plans to launch direct service to Haneda with 7 weekly flights scheduled to begin in February 2014. It has also asked for 14 weekly flights on the Manila-Narita route also scheduled to launch in February 2014 and 3 weekly flights on a route between Manila and Nagoya which will commence in June 2014. The carrier is also planning 7 weekly flights each on the following routes: Manila-Ibaraki, Manila-Sapporo, Manila-Okinawa, Manila-Hiroshima, and Manila-Fukuoka. From its Cebu base, the carrier plans to launch service on the following routes: Cebu-Narita, Cebu-Kansai, and Cebu-Nagoya. Cebu Pacific plans to launch the majority of flights in October 2014.
- AIR ASIA ZEST filed a request for a total of 32 weekly flights which would include 7 weekly flights each between Manila-Narita, Manila, Nagoya, and Manila-Osaka. Kalibo would also gain direct flights to Japan with 4 weekly flights direct to Osaka and 3 to Nagoya. The carrier also plans 4 weekly flights from Cebu to Osaka.
- TIGER AIR PHILIPPINES made a request for 56 round-trip flights including 7 weekly flights each on routes from Manila-Osaka and Kalibo-Narita. Clark Airport would also gain direct flights to Japan with non-stop service to Narita and Osaka with 7 weekly flights each. The carrier also plans to mount 14 weekly flights between Manila-Narita and Cebu-Narita.
The Civil Aeronautics Board is scheduled to review the various applications on September 24. At present, Philippine Airlines controls 43% of seat capacity between the Philippines and Japan. The carrier currently flies from Manila to Tokyo Narita, Fukuoka, Osaka and Nagoya. Cebu Pacific only operates three weekly flights between Manila and Osaka.
Kalibo, Cebu, and Clark Airport stand to gain from the new agreement as the carriers launch new direct flights from the respective airports that will improve access for tourists and business travellers from both countries with the ability to bypass Manila. New direct routes planned from these airports include:
- CEBU to Narita, Osaka, Kansai, Nagoya
- CLARK to Narita, Osaka
- KALIBO to Narita, Osaka, Nagoya
The new air agreement will be of great benefit to consumers that will now enjoy far more options for travel between the Philippines and Japan resulting in increased competition and lower fares. Many tourism industry analysts have suggested that with a significant increase in direct flights between the two countries, Japan could surpass Korea as the number one source market for tourists to the Philippines. Currently, Japan is the third largest source of tourists with 412,000 Japanese tourists arriving in the Philippines in 2012. The timing of the new agreement is also ideal for Filipino tourists as Japan recently relaxed visa requirements for Filipino travellers.