Pacific Flier going, gone...

Calls it Quits?

August 17, 2010

Koror – Palau-based airline Pacific Flier of Aviation Matters has suspended all flights operations to and from Koror last week on account of poor passenger sales and operating losses after it failed to secure landing rights to Guam.

President Johnson Toribiong of Palau said that the airline which has only been in service for four months has cancelled all flights “until further notice.”

Its last flight was made to the Philippines' Manila-Clark airport on friday, August 13, 2010 with resumption to its service likely to be nil.

The airline has been asking the US DOT for a foreign air carrier permit otherwise known as the "402 permit" to provide non-scheduled charter flight from Koror to Guam, as well as request for exemptions to title 49 USC §40109, which codifies the US Federal Aviation act of 1956.

Generally, a charter flight should not exceed 6 flights for the duration of the year, thus, an exemption is filed to mount more than 6 flights.

Its exemption permit was provisionally granted by US DOT on February 25, 2010 with flight scheduled on June 15 to Guam, until DOT found discripancies to its ownership structure who is mostly Australian nationals.

But the airline has said on its website that it was merely suspending its operation due to some traffic rights and access issues at Koror.

Neil Hansford, Vice President for operations, does not state further what those restrictions were. Instead, the airline "merely awaits the approval to sell all sectors without compromise", which is already in doubt considering the DOT recall of authority for Guam charter flights.

Pacific Flier applied to the US DOT on July 1 to begin scheduled services between Palau and Guam. The application is still pending and the time for its resumption uncertain as these are totally dependent on US regulators approval.

The airline's website however states that it is confident on the resumption of the service.

Hansford said it will pursue applications with U.S. and Philippine authorities for scheduled traffic rights. The airline was previously operating regular charter flights between Palau, Brisbane, Guam and Clark starting in April.

"Services will be relaunched with new equipment as soon as regulators in all jurisdictions agree to the new aircraft fleet to be operated on their routes. Hopefully co-operation will be forthcoming with the 3 regulators involved" the airline statement said.

Currently, Continental Micronesia operates a triangular Boeing 737-800 service along the sectors applied by Pacific Flier and will most likely have an equivalent aircraft type if their service is approved.

"Should satisfactory operating environments not be able to be negotiated PacificFlier will consider changing its route network or the level of planned rotations to some ports". the statement adds.

"Replacement aircraft have been sourced and applications will be made to regulators to place the new aircraft on the charter and scheduled programmes. There will be a change in aircraft type," says PacificFlier.

The airline operates a single aircraft, Airbus A310-300 (CS-TEI) with 18 business and 176 economy passenger seats, wet leased from Hi Fly-Transportes Aereos, S.A registered in Portugal.

To stay afloat, the company has been operating mostly cargo flights to Manila- Clark to reduce operating losses and has cancelled some flights in the past months due to poor passenger and cargo loads. But its cost saving measure was still not enough to save the airline from economic collapse due to regulatory issues.

Pacific Flier said the “difficulties in securing traffic rights led to substantial trading losses.”

The airline initially flew three times a week to Koror from Clark but later on was reduced to two times a week until the suspension announcements.

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