Gov't expects recovery in air traffic

Posted at 03/11/14 8:29 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) sees air traffic in the Philippines growing faster this year due to the government’s efforts to lure more foreign visitors into the country as well as the expansion of routes of airlines.

CAB deputy executive director Porvenir Porciuncula said the agency is looking at a faster growth this year as the agency is still in the process of finalizing its growth targets.

Porciuncula earlier said the government sees higher international air traffic due to the aggressive campaign being undertaken by the Department of Tourism (DOT) to lure more foreign visitors.

The Tourism department sees tourist arrivals in the Philippines hitting six million this year after it missed its five-million target last year.

Tourist arrivals grew 9.6 percent to 4.68 million last year from 4.27 million in 2012 as the government expects tourist arrivals to hit 10 million by 2016.

He added that major players in the airline industry led by national flag carrier Philippine Airlines Inc. (PAL) and budget airline Cebu Air Inc. (Cebu Pacific) are looking at further expanding their network by mounting more long-haul destinations this year.

The growth of air traffic slowed down to just one percent last year from the double-digit 11.7 percent growth in 2012 amid the realignment being undertaken by domestic carriers as well as the series of events and inclement weather that led to the cancellation of several flights.

Latest data from the CAB showed that volume of domestic and international passengers reached 37.67 million last year or 345,444 more compared to 37.31 million in 2012.

Cebu Pacific flew the most number of passengers last year with 13.06 million or 6.9 percent higher than the 12.21 million it serviced in 2012.

The volume of passengers flown by PAL and wholly-owned subsidiary PAL Express fell 11.7 percent to 11.2 million last year from 12.68 million due to the streamlining of operations after diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) bought into the airline.

PAL, jointly owned by taipan Lucio Tan and SMC, serviced 6.73 million passengers last year or 16.4 percent lower compared to 8.05 million in 2012 while PAL Express flew 4.47 million or 3.4 percent less compared with 4.63 million. PAL has transferred most of its domestic flights to PAL Express last Aug. 1 to focus on international routes.

CAB reported that volume of domestic passengers declined by 1.1 percent to 20.33 million last year from 20.57 million in 2012.