MANILA, Philippines - Budget airline Cebu Air Inc., the operator of the Cebu Pacific brand, is looking at increasing the number of its hubs in the Philippines to cope with increasing demand for air travel in and out of the country. Cebu Pacific president Lance Gokongwei said the low-cost carrier is set to establish more hubs in the Philippines as it is in the middle of a $4-billion refleeting program covering the acquisition of 49 new Airbus aircraft over the next nine years.
“I think we will consider other places in the coming years as more aircraft come into the Philippines,” Gokongwei stressed. The airline operates the most extensive network in the Philippines through its hubs in Manila, Cebu, Clark, Kalibo, Iloilo and Davao. Cebu Pacific currently operates more than 2,200 weekly flights to over 90 routes or city pairs. It flies to 34 domestic and 22 international destinations including recently launched Manila-Phuket and the scheduled Manila-Dubai on Oct. 7. The airline reported that volume of passengers serviced by its hub in Iloilo jumped 33 percent while that of Cebu, through the Mactan Cebu International Airport, increased 15 percent in the first eight months of the year. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 Cebu Pacific doubled the routes it offered to and from the Iloilo International Airport late last year by providing direct connectivity to Tacloban, Puerto Princesa, Gen. Santos and at the same time pioneered the first international flights to Hong Kong and Singapore. It likewise strengthened its teeming Cebu hub by launching direct flights to Coron, Bangkok, Camiguin and Masbate, bringing the number of domestic flights from Cebu to 25 and international flights to five. Candice Iyog, vice president for marketing and distribution of Cebu Pacific, said the airline continues to push for more tourism and trade in the destinations it flies to. “We hope that our direct air linkages empower everyone to travel in the fastest way possible, and discover tourism and trade opportunities all over the Philippines. Cebu Pacific will always explore how else it can assist in the country’s tourism agenda, with the delivery of more brand-new aircraft until 2021,” Iyog stressed. Cebu Pacific has a fleet of 47 aircraft include 10 Airbus A319, 27 Airbus A320, two Airbus A330 and eight ATR-72 500 aircraft. Between 2013 and 2021, the airline is scheduled to take delivery of 15 more brand-new Airbus A320, 30 A321neo and four A330 aircraft. It is set to ask the European Union in November to allow itto enter the European airspace after the EU lifted the ban on flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) last July 12. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) lifted the remaining significant security concerns after Philippines, through the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), passed the audit conducted from Feb. 18 to Feb. 22, paving the way for the series of upgrades. Cebu Pacific is also gearing up for flights to the US including Hawaii and Guam , as the Philippines is confident of getting an upgrade from the US, Federal Aviation Administration (US-FAA) within the year. In 2008, the safety rating of the Philippines was downgraded by the US FAA upon the recommendation of the (ICAO) to Category 2 from Category 1after CAAP failed to comply with safety standards for the oversight of air carrier operations.