Air Traffic Close To Saturation Point

Air passenger traffic rose only by 1.2% in Q1

By Miguel R. Camus

May 20, 2013

The country’s airline industry continued to post gains in terms of overall passenger traffic in the first quarter, but at a much slower pace than that recorded in 2012, data from the Civil Aeronautics Board showed.

Information posted on the agency’s website showed that total domestic and international traffic increased by about 1.2 percent to 9.58 million in the first three months of 2013. In the same period last year, passenger traffic grew by 11.7 percent. Philippine Airlines continued to be the preferred carrier for international flights while Cebu Pacific led in domestic traffic, CAB reported.

International traffic, comprising incoming and outgoing flights, hit 4.5 million passengers during the period, up nearly 5 percent from the roughly 4.3 million passengers registered in 2012.

But domestic air travel slipped by 2 percent to 5.06 million during the period.

Cebu Pacific, a budget carrier owned by JG Summit Holdings, accounted for almost half of all domestic flights as it carried 2.52 million passengers in the first quarter.

This was followed by flag carrier Philippine Airlines, a unit of conglomerate San Miguel Corp., and its budget unit PAL Express, which accounted for a combined 35 percent of total domestic flights.

Zest Air flew 496,926 passengers while SeaAir transported 209,979 passengers, CAB data showed. Zest Air is now 49 percent-owned by Air Asia Bhd., the region’s largest budget carrier.

Philippine Airlines, PAL Express and Zest Air saw a decline in the number of passengers in the first quarter while that of Cebu Pacific grew, CAB said.

Top local carriers were likewise preferred when compared with their international rivals plying overseas routes.

Although Philippine Airlines saw a 10-percent decline in passenger traffic during the period, it still flew 988,889 people in the first quarter, accounting for nearly 22 percent of all international flights.

Cebu Pacific, which is aggressively expanding its operations overseas, flew 733,127 passengers, up by 3 percent, accounting for 16.2 percent.

Zest Air also widened its market share, which grew to 3.36 percent during the period from 1.6 percent in 2012 as it ferried more people to overseas destinations. SeaAir had a market share of 1.74 percent in international flights.

The most popular foreign carrier in the three months to March was Cathay Pacific, with 353,117 passengers; followed by Emirates, with 210,210; Korean Air, with 185,856; Singapore Airlines, with 158,987; Asiana Airlines, with 153,380; and Etihad Airways, with 132,748 passengers.

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