Cebu Pacific seeking NZ flights

THE PARENT company of carrier Cebu Pacific Air said it has sought authorization to fly daily to New Zealand, an official said, with a decision expected when the regulatory board meets next month.

“We asked for daily frequency to New Zealand; we have aircraft with the range for a direct service to New Zealand. The market is attractive because of the growing Filipino community in New Zealand. We look forward to stimulating tourist traffic between the two countries,” Cebu Air, Inc. Long Haul General Manager Alejandro B. Reyes said in a text message on Thursday.

The application follows the signing in March of a new Philippine-New Zealand air services agreement, bringing the total number of weekly flights to 21 from three previously.

In a filing with the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), Cebu Pacific Air requested an allocation of seven weekly flights to New Zealand. The airline currently operates long-haul flights from Terminal 3 at Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Asked when the application will be acted on, CAB Executive Director Carmelo L. Arcilla replied: “The matter will be resolved by next board meeting, which is next month.”

Cebu Pacific Air is the only local carrier that has expressed an interest in new flights between Manila and New Zealand. Cebu Pacific Air previously expressed interest in more flights to Australia, Tokyo-Haneda, Hong Kong, and Indonesia.

Cebu Pacific’s foreign operations are largely focused on East Asian markets, with Dubai, Australia and Kuwait its only long-haul destinations.

The new air services agreement between the two countries permits unlimited flights to points outside of Manila, and includes fifth-freedom rights enabling Philippine carriers to pick up passengers in New Zealand and continue on to third-country destinations.

This currently enables New Zealand carriers to pick up passengers in the Philippines and continue on to China.

The new air services agreement also permits third-country code sharing, allowing airlines to market indirect but more seamless services between two countries, via cooperative agreements with third country airlines, which can assist in market development.