International air passenger traffic drops

By Darwin G. Amojelar

INTERNATIONAL passenger traffic in the Philippines fell in the first three months of the year due to the global economic crisis, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) said Monday.

Data from CAB showed that international passenger traffic went down by 4.2 percent to 2.97 million in the first quarter from 3.1 million in the same period last year.

Of the total, incoming passengers were down by 6.7 percent to 1.4 million, while outgoing passengers slipped to 1.58 million from 1.65 million.

Porvenir Porciuncula, CAB deputy executive director, said the decline in passenger traffic “is [due to] the global economic slowdown.”

He said passenger traffic would slow down further in the second quarter due to the A(H1N1) scare.

Of the 43 carriers with authority to fly in and out of the country, only 32 airlines operated during the period. The CAB said Air Nauru, Aeroflot, Air France, Vietnam Airlines, Canadian Airlines and British Airways ceased flying to the Philippines in 2001 followed by Swissair, Egyptair, Air France and P.T. Bouraq in 2004.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) flew 880,642 international passengers, down by 3.6 percent from 910,508 passengers last year. The flag-carrier’s incoming traffic stood at 411,572, while outgoing passengers reached 469,070.

Cebu Pacific carried 352,226 international passengers, or 4.7 percent higher than the 336,246 in the same period last year. Of the total, incoming passengers numbered 165,552 while outgoing passengers stood at 186,674.

Asian Spirit had no passengers during the period, while Southeast Asian Airlines flew 225.

Foreign airlines like Cathay Pacific carried 355,547 passengers; Northwest Airlines, 125,598; Singapore Airlines, 128,133; Korean Air, 57,784; Emirates Air, 99,376; Japan Airlines, 105,842; Thai Airways, 72,039; China Airlines, 67,403; Gulf Air, 68,971; and Asiana Airlines, 129,538.

Lufthansa and Dragon Air also had no passengers during the first quarter.

The regulator said domestic air traffic grew 21 percent to 3.4 million passengers from 2.8 million in the same three-month period last year.

The industry’s load factor—the number of seats occupied during a flight—climbed to 77 percent in the first three months from 75.6 percent in the same period in 2008.

The total number of seats during the period reached 4.29 million, up from 3.4 million in the same period previously.

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