Low-cost airline Cebu Pacific Air hopes to be able to expand in the Australian market once the cap on available capacity between Australia and the Philippines is lifted.
The budget airline is scheduled to start flying between Manila and Sydney from September with four flights a week on Airbus A330-300 aircraft configured with 436 all-economy class seats.
A fifth weekly service starts in December, and Cebu Pacific general manager for long-haul Alex Reyes says the airline will eventually go daily on the route.
However, further expansion to Sydney or other the other three major Australian ports – Perth, Brisbane or Melbourne – are on hold as Philippine carriers have used up all available 6,000 available seats per week into those four gateways.
Reyes said the Philippine government supported a lifting of the cap and initial efforts looked promising.
“It’s been received favourably,” Reyes said on Tuesday.
“Right now it is a matter of being able to schedule the air panels of both sides.”
Reyes noted that while the Philippines-Australia air services agreement had just 6,000 seats, the figure was about 38,000 for Malaysia and more than 28,000 for Thailand.
The Philippines was also currently negotiating new air services agreements with a number of other countries, he said.
Reyes said there has been a very strong response from travellers, particularly Australians wanting to visit the Philippines.
“Based on what we have seen in the initial bookings, yes there is a lot of unmet demand that is there,” Reyes said.
“What we always say is if we enter a market and all we do is take marketshare away from incumbents, then we should not be in that market.
“We are all about stimulating new traffic flows.”
Cebu Pacific currently flies four A330s, with one more due to arrive in August and another in the first three months of 2015.
Despite the eye-wateringly high seat count of 436 on the A330, Reyes said passenger feedback had so far been positive.
The aircraft is equipped with wifi internet on board, and the airline is trialling inflight entertainment delivered via wifi to personal devices.
Philippine Airlines and Qantas are the other two competitors on the Sydney-Manila route.
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