By EDD K. USMAN, SDN, Twitter @edd1819, Instagram @bluestar0910, Facebook: SDN — Science, Digital & Current News
CEBU PACIFIC AIR raised the bar of expansion with order of 63 new Airbus aircraft.
Charo Logarta Lagamon, Cebu Pacific director for Corporate Communications, said acquiring new aircraft is a long-term plan of the airline.
She told SDN — Science and Digital News on Monday, August 26, that aside from their pending purchase of 33 Airbus aircraft (two of them already delivered), they have another order for 31 more aircraft.
The 63 aircraft could easily be worth more than US$12 billion (list or tag price of one of the aircraft is at $100 million).
This brings the popular Philippine-based budget airline’s order to 63 passenger jets, as part of the airline’s expansion covering domestic and international routes.
She said the expansion also involves replacing some of the airline’s older jets.
Lagamon joined the panel at the National Heroes’ Day version of “Tapatan Sa Aristocrat” media forum” in Malate, Manila, hosted by veteran radio and print journalist Carmelo “Melo” Acuña
The forum tackled “Philippine Tourism: Potentials and Headwinds” with panelists that included — aside from Lagamon — Anna Rita Varona of Clean Our Oceans Project, engineer Alberto Suansing, special assistant to the secretary of the Department of Transportation (DoTr), and freelance journalist Randy Urlanda.
SDN asked her in an interview about the company’s plans going forward.
“For the very immediate time we have sales for National Heroes’ Day. We have a seat sale for domestic and international destination. It started last 12 midnight and will last until August 28,” said Lagamon, in English and Pilipino.
“What is good about this sale is that for the first time we have a facility called ‘Pay with Cashalo’, where you can book now, or fly now, and pay later. So, we partnered (with them) recently and the fare can be on credit to be paid in installment. Even after you fly.”
She said Cebu Pacific flyers can now book using the facility, with the seat sale offering cheap fare that they can pay gradually.
For the long-term plans of the airline, she said they are refitting the company with new aircraft.
“We ordered recently 31 brand new aircraft from Airbus. So, by 2024 or 2025, we will have our Airbus jets on the eco-friendlier variant.
“These are the aircraft that are next-generation models that actually burn 30 percent less fuel. They are cheaper in consuming fuel and we will have less carbon footprint,” she emphasized.
Thus, she said at Cebu Pacific the strategy is really to use aircraft that are more fuel-efficient and with more passengers.
And more environment-friendly, she added.
Another thing, Lagamon pointed out, airport congestion is not only in the Philippines, but also in other countries. To help remedy this, what the airline does is to have aircraft that seats more passengers but will be in the same airport spot, and not add pressure to an already pressured infrastructure.
She pointed out the 31 new orders of which Cebu Air, operator of the Cebu Pacific brand, made recently with Airbus are on top of the 32 orders (also with Airbus) made in June 2019.
News reports put the price tag for the 31 new orders at $6 billion.
Meanwhile, Acuña lamented the absence of any representative from the Department of Tourism (DOT).
“We invited Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat but she was not available. The DOT assigned a representative whose schedule was said to be in conflict with our media forum,” the well-respected journalist, who writes for China-based Asia Pacific Daily, revealed.
Varona raised some of the challenges facing the Philippine tourism industry.
“We need more infrastructure, more safety procedures,” she said, as she pointed to the aggressive promotion of dive tourism.
However, she bewailed that medical facilities for dive tourism such as decompression chambers are not available in the country’s dive spots. Varona said some tourists had died because of this problem.
“We brought this to the attention of the DOT,” said Varona.
Has the DOT acted, Acuña asked. “None,” she replied.
Lagamon said in promoting Cebu Pacific, the company is also promoting the country. “We do because we cannot promote our flights without promoting our country.”
2018 foreign tourist arrivals
Urlanda, a frequent visitor of Mindanao in the past, raised reporters’ treatment of the island, like focusing on the negative.
“Mindanao is generally safe for tourists. But local correspondents highlight negative stories.”
On the other hand, Suansing emphasized the need to maintain stringent security measures in the country’s airports to comply with international standards.
According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) the country saw a 7.7 percent of international tourist arrivals in 2018, which summed up to 7.1 million visitors.
Of the foreign arrivals, South Korea is still tops with 22.3 percent, numbering 1,587,959.
China followed at second place, supplying 1,255,258 visitors.
Third biggest tourism market is the United States, with 1,034,396 visitors to the Philippines.
Japan, fourth, 631,801, and Australia, fifth, 279,821.
Acuña said he plans to hold another “Tapatan” media forum on tourism and hopes that Romulo-Puyat can find time to attend, or at least send a representative who has time to spare. (SDN)
Featured image of a Cebu Pacific Air jet is a file photo of SDN — Science and Digital News.