Tiger Cleared to Fly

Seair eyes additional routes with flight ban now lifted

By Kathleen A. Martin

December 1, 2011 

SOUTH EAST Asian Airlines, Inc. (Seair) has begun reviewing plans to launch more routes after regulators lifted a ban on some of the carrier’s flights, an official yesterday said.


“Right now, we’re back to the drawing board. We have to plan what routes to fly,” Avelino L. Zapanta, Seair president and chief executive officer, said in a telephone interview yesterday.

The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) issued a cease and desist order on two Seair routes in May as it investigated the carrier’s partnership with a foreign airline, but the regulator then lifted the ban in late October.

CAB, in its Resolution No. 1 issued May 18, ordered Seair to stop the sale of seats for its Manila-to- Davao and Manila-to-Cebu routes planned for July.

The resolution was issued after local carriers Philippine Airlines, Cebu Air, Inc. (Cebu Pacific) and Air Philippines Corp. (Airphil Express) claimed flying to the aforementioned rules violated cabotage rights.

Cabotage rights, which involve the transport of goods and passengers between two or more points within the Philippines, are only for domestic airlines.

Local airlines raised the issue after Seair sealed a partnership with Tiger Airways Holdings Ltd. in November last year, obtaining a lease for two Airbus aircraft.

Moreover, Seair would be tapping Tiger Airways’ reservation system for its marketing and booking needs.

Local airlines had feared that allowing Seair to fly the Manila- to-Davao and the Manila-to-Cebu routes would in turn allow Tiger Airways to access the Philippine market and fly domestic routes.

A hearing on the issue commenced May 13, after which CAB issued a cease and desist order on the flights in question five days later “to prevent any injury to the public.”

“The cease and desist order has been lifted. That order caused the delay of our Manila to Cebu and [Manila to] Davao flights,” Mr. Zapanta said.

“It was issued because of the complaint of other local airlines,” he said.

“In the end, CAB found no violation [against the airline],” he added.

In a separate telephone interview, CAB Executive Director Carmelo L. Arcilla confirmed that Seair may now proceed with its Manila-to-Cebu and Manila-to- Davao flights.

“The cease and desist order has already been lifted so technically, they can already pursue these routes,” Mr. Arcilla said.

Even prior to the issue of cabotage rights, the partnership between Seair and Tiger Airways has long been complained of by local airlines.

In November last year, PAL, Cebu Air, Air Philippines, and Zest Airways, Inc. (Zest Air) filed a consolidated opposition to the partnership, cautioning the government that this will allow a foreign airline to tap the local market.

Seair and Tiger Airways launched flights to Singapore in December last year, and flights to Hong Kong in March this year. 

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