Philippines AirAsia is expanding its operations in Cebu, adding a four times weekly Singapore service, as well as a three times weekly Taipei service. It is likewise taking over the Cebu-Kuala Lumpur route from AirAsia Berhad of Malaysia while also increasing the flight frequency to four times weekly.
The Cebu-Singapore route will be operated effective November 25, 2016, while the Cebu-Taipei route will commence on the same date as well. The following are the timetables for the new routes:
Whereas Philippines AirAsia holds a monopoly on the Cebu-Kuala Lumpur route, it faces heavy competition on both the Cebu-Singapore and Cebu-Taipei routes. The former is already being serviced by Singapore Airlines subsidiaries: the full-service regional carrier SilkAir and the low-cost carrier Tigerair. Among Philippine carriers, it is being serviced by Cebu Pacific, and come December 2016, Philippine Airlines will commence services too. The latter, on the other hand, is being serviced by Cebu Pacific and more recently, EVA Air of Taiwan.
What the airline takes pride over its competition, however, are its low fares and the “World’s Best Low-Cost Airline” title from SKYTRAX, which the AirAsia Group has been holding for eight consecutive years.
Another advantage the airline holds for the Cebu-Singapore route is its connectivity via the world-class Singapore Changi Airport. From Singapore, the AirAsia Group flies to 15 destinations in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.
GROWING IN CEBU INSTEAD OF MANILA
Although some improvement has been seen recently in Manila, air traffic congestion is still a problem in the Philippines’ primary gateway Manila, and this has been hampering airlines’ expansion plans. Philippine Airlines, for one, has already set up plans to commence flying from Clark, while Cebu Pacific has been flying international outside Manila, opening routes from less congested airports like Davao, Iloilo, and Kalibo. While continuing to grow its operations out of Kalibo, Philippines AirAsia, for its part, has seen potential in growing its hub in Cebu as readies to accept delivery of five aircraft the remainder of this year and the next.
However, unlike the two other major Philippine carriers, it does not operate any domestic routes out of Cebu, save for Manila. This means that, for its international routes, the airline is gunning for passengers who are from Cebu and not so much those who are connecting via Cebu, setting them at a slight disadvantage among its rivals.
Despite this, the airline is bullish about its Cebu expansion plans, seeing Cebu as the most logical and most ideal alternative to Manila. Further, it has repeatedly cited Mactan-Cebu International Airport’s gradual revitalization as a resort-airport hybrid, thanks to the takeover of the consortium between India’s GMR Group and the Philippines’ Megawide Corporation.