Busiest Airport in 2018

Source: Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines
Philippine Airspace © Copyright 2019

Notes on Traffic Gainers and Losers
Biggest Gainer: Siargao Airport
Biggest Loser: Kalibo Airport

ANA Closes Deal With PAL

As Clear As The Rising Sun

28 January 2019

ANA Holdings Inc. and PAL Holdings Inc. will seal an investment deal next week in Tokyo.

The equity investment will initially comprise 9.5 percent stake in Trustmark Holdings of the Lucio Tan Group which owns 97.71% of PAL Holdings and controls 84.67% of Philippine Airlines (PAL) valued at $95 million with options to take up to 40% share of the company and possible management contract in the future tailored in a similar fashion but tweaked investment agreement the company previously agreed with San Miguel Corporation.

PAL Holdings also control Air Philippines Corporation (APC) through Zuma Holdings and Management Corporation which holds 99.97% of PAL Express.

In April 2012, San Miguel Equity Investments Inc. (SMEII), a wholly owned subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation (SMC), acquired 49% equity interest in Trustmark. Trustmark then owns 97.71% of the Company, which in turn beneficially owns 84.67% of Philippine Airlines Inc.

Thereafter, San Miguel Corporation entered talks with ANA in November 2013 for possible investment stake with the airline but the talks did not pushed through after a falling out with the Lucio Tan Group in 2014.

PAL however entered code share agreements with ANA in November 2014, and Lucio Tan group continued negotiations with the Japanese carrier leading to PAL Holding's equity restructuring in 2018 to pave the way for the foreign investment this year. Additional paid-in capital of 25.340 billion from its 2017 financial statement was added to its equity to wipe out capital deficit of 29.074 billion in the same year.

PAL said the removal of its deficit was part of the company’s intentions to welcome a new strategic investor that will buy “less than 40% of the company.”

According to source, Trustmark will initially sell 10% of its share to ANA Holdings followed by more due diligence of the airline for the acquisition of additional shares up to 40% with management contract.

The Lucio Tan Group through Trustmark Holdings directly owns 84.6% of Philippine Airlines, while 5.4% belongs to the Government of the Philippines and 10% to private investors.

Collectively, the Lucio Tan Group owns 98.91% of PAL, through a direct ownership in 98.56% of PAL’s shares and an indirect ownership in 0.35% of PAL’s shares through an 82.33% direct ownership in PR.

Nikkei Asian Review earlier broke the news based on news leaks scooped by Philippine Daily Inquirer,  and reported ANA Holdings Inc. is considering investment in PAL Holdings.

"There is continuing discussion. Contract has not been signed yet. So there is nothing to disclose." PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Jaime Bautista said Monday.

Corporate insider however disclosed on condition of anonymity that some of its officers are already booked to fly Tokyo next week without elaborating further.

ANA reported last week it is in talks with PAL’s parent company PAL Holdings about making an investment in the Philippine’s flag-carrier, but stated that no concrete decision has been made yet.

Meanwhile, Lucio Tan did not confirm or deny the talks when interviewed by reporters on the sidelines of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ annual reception for the banking community last week. PAL Holdings also denied in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) that it has signed agreement with ANA.

PAL Holdings has market capitalization of US$3.11 billion with US$223 million subscribed shares. PAL assets are valued at US$3.2 billion (₱180 billion) while liabilities were reported at US$ 3 billion (₱166 billion) as of December 31, 2017 based on PSE disclosures.

CEB Upggrades Fleet

27 January 2019

Low Cost Carrier Cebu Pacific (CEB) is upgrading its fleet to A321Neo beginning this year as it takes first delivery of thirty two 236 seater A321Neo aircraft last January 20 from Ireland-based lessor Avalon.

Cebu Pacific would be receiving an average of nine A321Neo aircraft starting this year until 2022.

The new A321Neo fleet will replace all flight services at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), and Mactan International Airport to major domestic and International points served by existing A320s as the airline adds capacity to the slot-restricted airport.

CEB earlier added seven A321ceos to its fleet in 2018 replacing the expiring leases of seven A320s to add capacity at NAIA.

The airline also operates a fleet of 35 A320-200s and eight A330-300s for intra-asia and Australia service. Its subsidiary CEBgo operates a fleet of ATRs consisting of eight (8) ATR 72-500, and 12 ATR 72-600 aircraft.

The ATR aircraft are used for cross inter-island destinations mostly operating at airport where jet operations are not possible.

CEB boasts as having one of the youngest fleets in the world, with an average aircraft age of five (5) years.

PAL To Open Sangley

25 January 2019

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) plans to move its turbo-propeller flights from Clark to Sangley airport once the latter begins operations in October.

Jaime Bautista, PAL president and chief operating officer, said the airline had already sent application with the Department of Transportation (DoTr) to operate at the airport once it start civil operations on the fourth quarter of this year.

According to DOTr, Sangley airport will not be able to support Airbus A320 operations at this time due to airport limitations on standard separation for taxiway traffic, but will instead cater to turboprop jet and small size passenger jet with the largest aircraft permitted to land being the E-190 aircraft capable of carrying 100 passengers or less.

The airline said new and additional turboprop flights will be added once Sangley begins commercial operations.

Bautista said majority operations of its Bombardier Q400s operating out of Clark to the provinces would be moved to Sangley airport as it opens its door to civl aviation.

“Sangley doesn't have a terminal yet. When its completed we will relocate turboprop operations there as this will allow many passengers to reach Manila rather than go to Clark,” Bautista said.

Sangley is also nearer to NAIA as it is 45 minutes away making transfer to international connections much easier.

PAL has moved its entire turboprop fleet out of Ninoy Aquino International Airport to consolidate operations in Clark since 2017.

Transportation Undersecretary for Aviation Manuel Antonio Tamayo said Friday that the initial target of making the airport operational by fourth quarter of 2019 is on schedule.

DoTr approved contracts for runway extension from the original 1,200 meters to 2,300 meters in 2017 and construction works began in 2018.

Tamayo said construction works on the PTB (passenger terminal building) and the ramp are on going, while two large hangars are also being build for air charter operators.

PAL operates a fleet of 13 Bombardier DHC-8 planes out of its hub in Clark, Cebu and Davao.

Air Asia Expands Kalibo Hub Again

Opens Hangzhou, Chengdu, Kunming and Macau

11 January 2019

Low cost carrier AirAsia Philippines (AAP)is expanding its international hub in Kalibo as it introduces direct flights to Macau, Kunming and Chengdu in China from Kalibo International Airport beginning January 18.

The airline will operate Kalibo – Hangzhou starting Jan. 18 followed by Chengdu on the 24th, Kunming on the 25th and Macau on March 2. All the route will be flown by Airbus A320 aircraft.

Kalibo International Airport is one of the hub of Air Asia outside Manila says AirAsia CEo Dexter Comendador.

“We are the pioneers in Kalibo beginning with the Korean tourists, and now we open additional routes from China to "Boracay island," Comendador said.

“China is an important market for leisure and tourism and we are excited to bring them back to Boracay” Comendador adds.

Air Asia flies from Kalibo to Manila, Busan and Seoul, south Korea.

CEB Secures Hajj Flights

5 January 2019

Philippine Low Cost Carrier Cebu Pacific (CEB) has been granted authority to fly Filipino pilgrims to Mecca following Philippine consultation with Saudi Arabia on the annual hajj pilgrimage transport.

By tradition Saudi Arabia allows only two airline, Saudia and Philippine Airlines to fly Filipinos to Mecca  to perform annual hajj pilgrimage but the policy was changed this year allowing for a third airline to perform similar tasks.

The agreement was reached on January 3 between National Commission on Filipino Muslims (NCMF) Secretary Saidamen Pangarungan and Saudi Deputy Minister for Hajj and Umrah Dr Sharief Housnie in Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

Airfare rates of the third company is significantly lower compared to both Saudia and PAL,” according to NCMF official.

The reason for the allowance was the current difficulty of some Filipino Muslim pilgrims, particularly those affected by the Marawi seige, to afford airline tickets offered by the two existing airlines.

Dr Dimapuno Datu Ramos Jr, National Commission on Filipino Muslims (NCMF) director for external relations said that the allowance is valid for 2019 only but may be extended by the Saudi government.

In addition to the entitlement the Saudi government also pledged to accommodate Filipino pilgrims in 5-star hotels accommodation to ease the suffering of the victims of the war in Marawi as they fulfill one of Islam's 5 pillars of faith.

“We can look forward to a better hajj experience for this year,” says Datu Ramos who also attended the meeting in Riyadh.

The 2019 Hajj pilgrimage is scheduled to begin on August 9 this year.

PH Signs EU Horizontal Aviation Agreement

4 January 2019

The Philippines and the European Union (EU) have signed the PH-EU Horizontal Aviation Agreement during a ceremony held at the Justus Lipsius Building in Brussels on 29 November 2018.

Ambassador to Brussels and the European Union Eduardo José A. de Vega, and Ambassador of the Permanent Representative of Austria to the EU and Permanent Representatives Committee Chairman Nikolaus Marschik and European Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE) Deputy Head of Unit Klaus Geil signed the agreement on behalf of the Philippines and European Union, respectively.

A horizontal agreement is an international agreement negotiated by the Commission on behalf of EU Member States, in order to bring all existing bilateral air services agreements between EU Member States and a given third country in line with EU law.

The signing of the Agreement is an important milestone for Philippine-EU bilateral relations. It will not only remove nationality restrictions in bilateral air services agreements between the Philippines and EU Member States but will also harmonize standards and provisions between the Philippines and EU Member States in the fields of safety, taxation of aviation fuel, and compatibility with competition rules.

The Philippines has existing air services agreements with the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and the Netherlands.

PAL Expands Kalibo Hub

3 January 2019

Flag Carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) is expanding its Kalibo hub this year by growing its international route network to China.

PAL will open Kalibo to Hangzhou (4x weekly A320) and Nanjing (3x weekly A320) in January 22 and January 23, respectively. It was originally scheduled for launch on October 28 but was deferred due to regulatory delays.

Kalibo – Hangzhou eff 23JAN19 4 weekly
2P9741 KLO1740 – 2110HGH 320 x135
2P9742 HGH2215 – 0135+1KLO 320 x135

Kalibo – Nanjing eff 23JAN19 3 weekly
2P2638 KLO1310 – 1710NKG 320 135
2P2639 NKG1815 – 2210KLO 320 135

Meanwhile, Kalibo – Shanghai Pudong will begin on January 14 thrice a week.

Kalibo –Shanghai eff 14JAN19 3 weekly
2P2745 KLO1915 – 2315PVG 320 135
2P2746 PVG0015 – 0415KLO 320 246

The airline currently flies to Seoul Incheon, Busan, Beijing, and Chengdu out of Kalibo International Airport. 

E-Gates Expedites Entry To Country

3 January 2019

The introduction of Electronic Gates (e-gates) at NAIA in October has paved the way in the drastic reduction of queues for border control of arriving Filipinos at the country's premier airport.

Called “Fast Travel” program, it was introduced by the International Air Transport Association to simplify and improve the clearing processes. It is also used in pinpointing citizens under the watch list and or persons of interest in immigration formalities.

E-gates are normally found at developed countries around the world. It was introduced to the Philippines three months ago and became an instant hit to arriving Filipinos particularly during peak hours where queue is normally longer.

Twenty Three e-gates are commissioned by the Philippine government to be installed at major and busy international airports across the country with a price tag of P328,869,000.

There were 13 e-gate machines installed in NAIA (5 at NAIA 1, 3 at NAIA 2, and 5 at NAIA 3), while Mactan-Cebu got five machines. Soon, Clark will have five e-gates installed, and another three e-gates will be installed in Davao in 2019.

Another set of e-gates machines are already ordered for installation in Kalibo, Iloilo, and Bacolod, while another set is earmarked for Puerto Princesa, Tagbilaran, and Zamboanga.

Immigration Commissioner Jamie Morente said that e-gates have shortened the processing time of Filipino travelers holding machine readable passports to only 8 to 15 seconds per passengers from the previous 45-60 seconds.

E-gates for Philippine Passport at NAIA T3 already cut queues by 50-70% during rush hour, according to Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina.

China Southern Links Guangzhou To Cebu

3 January 2019

Chinese carrier China Southern is flying to Mactan Cebu beginning 22 January 2019. The service will be flown thrice weekly from Guangzhou to Cebu with Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The airline currently operates three daily flights to Manila.

Okay Air Grows Kalibo

China Eastern Adds Chengdu to Route

3 January 2019

Chinese carrier Okay Airways has added Nanning to its growing route network from Kalibo and has flown the route since December 7.

The airline operates this route 3 times a week with Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

Okay Airways flies from Kalibo to Changsa since October 29 and has added Tianjin and Xi’an on December 7 and 8, respectively.

Meanwhile, China Eastern has connected Kalibo to Chengdu since Dec 29, 2018 with Airbus A320 aircraft. The airline will operate this route 4 times a week.

MU5099 CTU1020 – 1500KLO 320 x135
MU5100 KLO1600 – 2110CTU 320 x135

PAL To Fly Tel Aviv

2 January 2019

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) is seeking regulatory clearance to mount thrice weekly A330-300 direct flights to Israel beginning November 2019, following approval of special overflight agreement between Saudi Arabia and the Philippines that is expected be sign next month.

The Civil Aeronautics Board earlier send request to the Saudi Arabian government to use the latter's airspace after PAL manifested intent to fly the route directly or via India through fifth freedom traffic rights.

The route will be code-shared with Israel's El Al Airlines (ELY). PAL earlier signed Memorandum of Understanding with ELY in 2016 for route cooperation and development between Tel Aviv and Manila and vice versa.

Israel is the third largest tourism market of the Philippines in the Middle East following United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia.

In 2018, the Israel Ministry of Tourism (IMOT) said that as of November 2018, more than 27,000 Filipinos have already visited Israel compared to the 23,500 for the same period of last year, or an increase of 25% arrival, via Hong Kong and Turkey. No Middle Eastern airline that calls in Manila flies to Israel.

“2018 has been outstanding and by far the best year for Israel tourism in the Philippines and worldwide. By November, we already surpassed the 2017 Filipino tourist arrival in Israel. The Philippines has been an important market for us and I am pleased to say that we have witnessed a constant growth over the last two years,” said IMOT-Philippines Director Hassan Madah.

IMOT said they are expecting 30,000 Filipinos to come to Israel from the Philippines this year.

Latest Israeli statistics indicate that Filipino arrivals in Israel worldwide increased to 459,138 in June 2016 from 445,449 in May of 2016. The United States comprising mostly Christians remains by far the largest source of tourism in the holy land, with approximately 813,000 Americans staying overnight in Israel this year.

Meanwhile, there were more than 17,000 Israelis that visited the Philippines in 2017 according to data provided by the Department of Tourism. The agency said they are expecting this number to rise to 25,000 by end of 2018. 

PAL Expands Manila Hub

Add's Phnom Penh and Hanoi To Network

2 January 2019

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) is flying to Hanoi from Manila beginning March 31 four times a week on Airbus A320 aircraft. It will also launch flight to Phnom Penh in Cambodia from Manila 5 times a week on Airbus A320 beginning on April 1.

The flight schedules are listed below
Manila – Hanoi 4 weekly flights on A320 (Reservation to open soon)
PR595 MNL2225 – 0045+1HAN 320 x246
PR596 HAN0145 – 0530MNL 320 x357

Manila – Phnom Penh 5 weekly flights on A320 (Reservation to open soon)
PR521 MNL2210 – 2345PNH 320 x37
PR522 PNH0045 – 0420MNL 320 x14

The airline is also increasing flight services beginning March 31 from Manila to Bangkok, Jakarta, Osaka, Busan, Kuala Lumpur, Doha, Brisbane, Sydney, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, and New York.

PAL Returns To India

Flies New Delhi and Bombay Direct

2 January 2019

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has announced that it will be flying back to India beginning with direct flights to New Delhi on March 31, 2019 utilizing the new 168-seater dual-class Airbus A321NEO aircraft.

PR726 will depart from Manila at 7:15AM every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and arrive in New Delhi at 12:35PM. PR 727 will leave New Delhi at 1:35 on the same days and touch down in Manila at 10:35PM.

Meanwhile, direct flights to Mumbai is scheduled to commence on October 31 and will be flown thrice a week every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday using A321Neo aircraft. Schedules will be publish as soon as they become available.

PAL last flew to New Delhi via Bangkok in June 17, 2013 before suspending the service because of poor sales and bad schedule. Services to Delhi has seen flight downgrades from Airbus 330 to Airbus 320 in the past until service termination.