Cebu Pacific is now largest domestic airline

Cebu Pacific Air, the budget airline unit of the Gokongwei group, has edged out the Philippine Airlines (PAL) as the largest domestic carrier in the country as of August 2006, following the arrival of its new Airbus 319s and 320s under its refleeting program.

In its latest statistics, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said Cebu Pacific now accounts for more than a quarter of all domestic flights and over a third of total passenger seats.

Data shows that Cebu Pacific has 553 weekly domestic flights, with total capacity of 83,333 seats, representing 36.8 percent of the total.

The country has five domestic carriers that fly 2,029 times, with total passenger seat capacity of 226,225 each week.

In comparison, the Philippine Airlines of tycoon Lucio Tan has 490 weekly flights, which can seat up to 73,952 passengers each week, for a 32.7 percent share of the market.

Air Philippines, which is also majority-owned by Tan who bought it from plastics magnate William Gatchalian, has 366 weekly domestic flights, with total capacity of 43,188 seats, representing 19.1 percent of the total.

Asian Spirit, the first carrier to serve the Caticlan route on the way to Boracay, has 352 weekly domestic flights, with total capacity of 19,171 seats for 8.5 percent share.

Southeast Asian Airline (Seair), the one founded by German pilot Iren Dornier, has 268 domestic flights with passenger capacity of 6,581 for 2.9 percent share.

According to the Tourism Research and Statistics Division, Cebu Pacific also has the lowest average airfare of about P1,200 to any local destination.

The Gokongwei-owned airline has slashed its fare under the Go fare promo, which has sold out 154,000 seats for the period June 20 to October 18, 2006 in time for its tenth year anniversary.

However, Cebu Pacific has recently filed a petition with the Civil Aeronautics Board for a fare increase to reflect rising cost of fuel. At its present rate, Cebu Pacific's fare is less than half of the fare charged by other local carriers.

Air Philippines, for one, charges P2,798 for the Manila-Cebu flight and P3,667 for the Manila-Davao flight. PAL's fare to Cebu is P3,048 and to Davao, P3,818

Asian Spirit's fare for the Manila-Caticlan route is P2,790, slightly cheaper than P2,890 charged by Seair.

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