November 25, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Cebu Pacific sees strong demand for Japan flights

CEBU PACIFIC is planning to mount flights to Haneda airport in Japan, should there be additional entitlements for the route.

Cebu Pacific Vice-President for Corporate Affairs Paterno S. Mantaring, Jr. said there is strong demand to operate the Manila-Haneda flight given the proximity of the airport to Tokyo, compared to Narita airport.

“We want to expand our operations to Japan and we want to operate to Haneda but right now we can’t get any allocation entitlements from the government,” Mr. Mantaring told reporters in a recent media briefing.

“We’re asking for holding of air talks between the Republic of the Philippines and Japan so that we can add entitlements,” he added.

The Gokongwei-led airline has been asking for air talks between the two countries since two years ago, and recently renewed its request during the latest air panel meeting.

“We’re waiting for the government of Japan to respond to that request... hopefully in the coming months,” Mr. Mantaring said.

Currently, Cebu Pacific -- which has 400 flight entitlements between Manila and Tokyo -- offers flights to Tokyo via Narita as well as services to Fukuoka, Nagoya and Osaka in Japan.

Among the domestic airlines, only Philippine Airlines offer direct flights to Haneda.

“I think there is demand [for the Manila-Haneda flights]. It’s near the city so it’s easier for the traveling public, unlike Narita [Airport] which is 60-70 kilometers (kms.) away from the city,” Mr. Mantaring said.

Haneda Airport is the closest airport to Tokyo City, with a distance of only around 15 kms.

Last year, Japanese tourists were the top four market for the Philippines recording 535,238 arrivals, next only to Korea (1.48 million), United States (869,463) and China (675,663).

Aside from Japan, Cebu Pacific earlier said it is also interested to increase the frequency of its Manila and Sydney flights, noting sustained demand for this route.

Cebu Pacific offers flights to over 60 destinations including Dubai, Tokyo, Beijing, Bali and Australia, among others.

The Gokongwei airline is targeting to ferry 20 million passengers this year. In 2016, it carried 19.1 million passengers, up 4% from the 18.4 million passengers flown in 2015. On average, Cebu Pacific flights were 86% full during the year. -- Imee Charlee C. Delavin