Ozamiz - Philippine Airlines may have won the battle early by keeping its competitor, low cost carrier Cebu Pacific out of its terminal building but has not deterred 5J to slowly swallow its market share away from its subsidiary, firstly, from Air Philippines and second, from PAL Express when it introduced service to the newly reopened airport late last year.
Ozamiz Labo airport re-opened to the public on July 11, 2007 with President Gloria Arroyo gracing the opening ceremony after the arrival of Air Philippines 737 flight from Manila.
Since then, Air Philippines was the sole operator until the entry of Cebu Pacific on November 10, 2008 with routes to Cebu using its brand new ATR planes competing head on with PAL's second hand Q400 planes on the same day. PAL Express flew to the airport on September that year.
It took Cebu Pacific only 6 months to eat and take away the market lead and headway of both Air Philippines and PAL Express. Similar scenarios has been happening in Dumaguete and Naga where both airlines wrestle for market lead and passenger demands.
This month, the competition will go to the next level as both airlines will introduce A319 aircraft to the airport after the runway extension project was completed a month ago.
Philippine Airlines will introduce a daily service to the airport on June 15 replacing the 20 years old Boeing 737-200 plane of its subsidiary Air Philippines while Cebu Pacific jet will land at Ozamiz airport the next day on a four times a week service to usher a new era of competition for direct jet flights to Manila.
The competition is so hot at Ozamiz Airport that most of Manila bound passengers content themselves of traveling via Cebu on a discounted fare rather than opting for a direct flight service offered by Air Philippines later on a day. Its no wonder why Cebu Pacific offered its flight in the morning rather than the usual mid-day flight for secondary destinations.
The airport is the gateway for both Ozamiz and Pagadian Cities where bulk of the airline passengers came from but such demand may have to change three months from now as the Pagadian airport goes on line and re-opens to the public this September for commercial operation.
It is expected that its present passenger volume will be split up again once both airlines start serving Pagadian airport.