PAL, CebuPac flying to Italy

Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air plan to launch direct flights to Italy, a major European country with a large population of Filipino migrants.

The two airlines filed separate applications with the Civil Aeronautics Board for flight entitlements to Italy, after the two countries signed a new air services agreement on Sept. 5.

PAL seeks seven-times weekly flights from Manila to Rome Flumicino and vice versa and another seven times weekly frequency from Manila to Milan Malpensa and vice versa.

PAL, according to its application, is planning a winter 2013/2014 launch date in Italy, using a long-range aircraft such as Boeing 777-300ER, Airbus A340-300 or B747-400.

Cebu Pacific asked for a seven weekly entitlements to operate daily flights from Manila to a city in Italy. The airline did not mention what aircraft it would use in the planned route.

The Philippines and Italy earlier agreed to increase flight entitlements from just one flight in the previous agreement in 1969 to 14 flights. The CAB said the agreement would benefit the 170,000 Filipino workers in Italy.

Both petitions are scheduled for hearing on Oct. 2.

Meanwhile, PAL and unit PAL Express asked the CAB to impose higher fuel surcharges on their domestic and international destinations.

PAL is looking at increasing fuel surcharge between P50 and P100 on its Manila-Kalibo flights from P350 to P400, Manila-Cebu flights from P350 to P400, Manila-Davao flight from P450 to P500 and Manila-General Santos flights from P450 to P550.

PAL Express asked for a $30 fuel surcharge per person on its Manila-Bangkok, Kalibo-Hangzhou and Kalibo-Shanghai routes.

PAL Express also wanted an additional fuel surcharge of P50 to P150 for all domestic routes and inter-island destinations.

A fuel surcharge is added to each ticket to offset increases in jet fuel prices, an airline’s highest expense after labor. Jet fuel accounts for more than a third of airlines’ operating cost per passenger.

The International Air Transport Association’s jet fuel price monitor showed the average price as of Sept. 20 stood at $123 a barrel, down 2.5 percent over last month, and 5.8 percent lower than year ago.

IATA expects the price of jet fuel to average at US$124.5 a barrel in 2013, translating into less fuel bill of $3 billion for the global airline industry.