Australia Expands Seats to 9,300

2 May 2015

Left Out Fifth Freedom Options

The Australian government has approved more seats to Sydney and Melbourne at the request of the Philippines after both countries expanded their air service agreement Wednesday in Canberra.

The expanded bilateral benefits low cost carrier Cebu Pacific as its requested seats for Sydney and Melbourne was granted by Australian regulators amidst 10% growth in passenger traffic to the land down under.

Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla said the seat entitlements was increased to 9,300 a week from the existing 6,000 seats. Meanwhile, there is no cap to other international gateway other than Brisbane and Perth.

Arcilla said the Philippines was seeking for more seats but Australia granted only the seats requested by Cebu Pacific saying that Philippine Airlines was not utilizing its current entitlements. He however stressed that new seats is more than enough at the moment.

“The granted seats will cover our requirements in the next couple of years.” says Arcilla.

Cebu Pacific president and CEO Lance Gokongwei said Friday that the budget airline would apply for the necessary permits to fly to Melbourne, its second route in Australia next to Sydney, after the government secured additional capacity for its behalf.

Meanwhile, the fabled fifth freedom option from Sydney to Auckland requested by PAL remains tricky as the agreement calls for third country code sharing which requires the flag carrier to partner with Australian Airlines or New Zealand Airlines to avail of the benefits.

“The two countries also agreed to allow third country code sharing, which will enable designated airlines of the Philippines or Australia to operate services jointly with an airline of a third country, to, from or via the other country and thus improve market distribution,” Arcilla added.

Arcilla did not elaborate on the nature of the fifth freedom issues and said it was not the agency’s practice to release details of negotiations given the sensitive and complicated nature of the talks.

The Sydney-Auckland market remains one of the most competitive fifth freedom market in the world with seven airlines operating on that sector. 

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