More long-haul routes: Cebu Pacific to fly to Sydney, Kuwait
MANILA, Philippines – Budget carrier Cebu Pacific of taipan John Gokongwei Jr. will fly direct to Syndey in Australia and Kuwait in the Middle East starting September as it beefs up its long-haul operations to compete head on with legacy carrier Philippine Airlines.
Cebu Pacific president Lance Gokongwei said in a press conference on Monday, June 16, that the low-cost carrier was acquiring more aircraft in line with its plan to introduce more long-haul flights within the year.
“I think the premise remains very good. If you provide low fares to consumers then it stimulates traffic and demand and grows the market that model has worked for short-haul and now for long-haul markets,” Gokongwei stressed.
Cebu Pacific is in the middle of a $4-billion refleeting program involving the acquisition of close to 50 aircraft. The airline has a fleet of 52 Airbus aircraft consisting of 10 A319, 30 A320, 4 A330, and 8 ATR-72 500 planes.
The airline is scheduled to take delivery of 11 more A320s, 30 Airbus A321neos, and two Airbus A330s between this year and 2021.
“So we will have 6 long-haul aircraft by next year. There are opportunities for the short- and long-haul regional markets,” noted Gokongwei.
Cebu Pacific vice president for long-haul operations Alex Reyes said the airline would fly 3 times a week to Kuwait, starting September 2, and 4 times a week to Sydney, starting September 9. It will use its brand new Airbus A330-300 for the routes.
Reyes said Cebu Pacific would be the only airline offering non-stop flights to Kuwait, which hosts more than 180,000 Filipinos workers.
To mark the launch of the new route, Cebu Pacific is offering an introductory seat sale from June 16 to 19 or until seats last, for travel from September 2 until December 31. Base fares for Manila-Kuwait flights start for as low as P1, exclusive of fuel surcharge, taxes and other fees. After the seat sale, the lowest year-round base fares to Kuwait would start at P4,999.
Reyes said Cebu Pacific would also fly non-stop to and from Sydney, where over 300,000 Filipinos are based. All-in fares from Manila to Sydney go as low as P4,999, inclusive of fuel surcharge and other fees, but exclusive of the Philippine Travel Tax. After the seat sale, the lowest year-round all-inclusive fares to Sydney would start at P12,150.
Cebu Pacific said its fares were up to 64% lower compared to the fares of other airlines.
Low fares for long haul
Aside from boosting tourism in the country, Gokongwei said the airline’s strategy of offering low fares would greatly benefit Filipinos living and working abroad.
“Our trademark low fares will allow our kababayans abroad, the global Filipinos, to visit home more often, as we had done in other destinations before, and at the same time attract tourists into our shores,” he said.
He said the company’s first long-haul route, Manila-Dubai, has achieved a load factor of 80% since its launch in October last year. Sydney and Kuwait are the second and third long-haul routes of Cebu Pacific.
Gokongwei said they would launch flights to the US and Europe.
“Guam we are trying to do this year but Hawaii is unlikely for this year,” he said.
“We are studying all our options in Europe. We are now considering charters between Russia and the Philippines, particularly from Kalibo and Cebu,” he added.
However, Gokongwei said routes to the US and Europe would entail the acquisition of long-range aircraft as Cebu Pacific’s A330 has a flight range of only 12 hours. – Rappler.com