CAB approves new Singapore entitlements

By Lenie Lectura

August 16, 2010

THE Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) last week awarded Singapore entitlements to four airlines, fielding additional flights to one of the busy destinations in the region.

The four airlines are Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Zest Air and Air Philippines, said CAB executive director Carmelo Arcilla.

PAL got 700 seat entitlements, which translate to four weekly flights. From 28 flights per week, the flag carrier can now mount up to 32 flights a week to Singapore.

Cebu Pacific, which flies to Singapore 25 times a week, was awarded 908 seats, equivalent to six flights a week. The Gokongwei-owned airline can now field 32 flights per week to Singapore.

Candice Iyog, Cebu Pacific vice president for marketing and distribution, earlier said the airline asked for an additional 2,520 seats for its Manila-Singapore flights to enable the low-cost carrier to add a twice-a-day flight.

“This is was what we had originally asked for. We have used up all our entitlements, whereas Air Philippines and Zest Air still have rights which they have not used,” she said.

Air Philippines, which is 99-percent owned by the Lucio Tan group, and Zest Air, formerly Asian Spirit, can now mount daily flights to Singapore after the CAB awarded each of them seat entitlements.

“We gave them seats to Singapore which will allow them to operate daily flights,” said Arcilla in a phone interview.

Zest Air was supposed to start mounting flights to Singapore early in the year but was faced with delays in the delivery of aircraft. The airline’s vice president for communications, Butch Rodriguez, said Zest Air already has entitlements to Singapore which authorizes it to mount five weekly flights. The CAB awarded it two more entitlements to Singapore.

“We were informed that their aircraft has arrived last July,” the CAB official said.

Arcilla, however, warned that the CAB would confiscate the Singapore entitlements if Zest Air will not use them in six months.

“Our use-it or lose-it policy is strictly enforced. If any of them fail to use it in six months from the award of the entitlements then we will have to get them back,” said the CAB official.

Zest Air will use an Airbus A320 to field its Manila-Singapore route.

Rodriguez said the airline would have another aircraft delivered in October.

“We intend to launch Singapore [flights] by early November. We have 90 days to market the new destination,” Rodriguez earlier said.

The amended air services (ASA) agreement with Singapore sealed in May produced 2,647 weekly seats for Philippine airlines to use for Manila-Singapore flights.

“There is really a demand for the Singapore route because the place is not only a tourist destination but also meant for business transactions or activities, and we also have overseas Filipino workers there,” added Arcilla.

The CAB is part of the Philippine air panel which negotiates for traffic rights with other countries. The other panel members include the Departments of Transportation and Communications, of Foreign Affairs, of Tourism, and of Trade and Industry, and representatives from the airline companies.

Since the start of the year the Philippine air panel has inked air pacts with Bahrain and Turkey. Up next are China, Indonesia and Hong Kong, said Arcilla.

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