Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cebu Pacific Air low cost airline to fly to Brunei

By Narissa Noor

The Philippine's second low-cost carrier, Cebu Pacific Air, will touchdown at the Brunei International Airport for the first time this Sunday, August 22.

The second low-cost airline to fly to Brunei after AirAsia will arrive in Brunei Darussalam at approximately 2am with a full flight of 156 passengers.

This will be followed by the inaugural departure of the Brunei-Manila flight at 2.25am. According to Blessie Cruz, Manager of Advertising and Promotion at Cebu Air Inc, as of yesterday, 145 passengers are already booked on the departing flight.

Slated for only twice weekly, there are no immediate plans to increase the frequency of its flights.

"We still have to see if the route is profitable before we can increase the frequency," Cruz told the Bulletin.

Brunei is Cebu Pacific's 15th international destination and is the third largest low-cost carrier in Asia, garnering a 91.8 per cent on-time performance in the first quarter of 2010.

According to the Philippine Embassy's Charge d'Affaires, Celeste Vinzon-Balatbat, Cebu Pacific's operation in Brunei is a significant milestone in the Brunei-Philippines bilateral relations.

"Our cooperation in air services has the potential to promote the two-way flow of people, trade, investment and tourism," he said.

As of today, Brunei has a total of four airlines flying in and out of the country including AirAsia, Malaysia's own low-cost airline, Singapore Airlines and Brunei's own national carrier, Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA).

AirAsia recently received authorisation to double its service to Kuala Lumpur starting from August 25. It was also reported that Indonesia AirAsia is keen to fly the Brunei-Jakarta sector.

Meanwhile, RBA is seemingly unfazed and remains optimistic despite the influx of low-cost airlines into the country.

"Cebu Pacific itself is a budget airline which caters to a different market. However, we welcome other airlines into Brunei as it allows Brunei to become a bigger commercial hub," RBA's Executive Vice President of Commercial & Planning, Riaz Moiz, told the Bulletin.

"We are a lifestyle company, providing more than just point-to-point transport services," he added.

Moreover, RBA's recent acquisition of a fleet of Boeing 777s and new fare strategies has also had a positive impact on the airlines' reputation.

"In addition to the higher passenger capacity, the 777 aircraft is a newer and improved product offering and this will enable RBA to grow its revenue and passenger base by being able to compete more effectively in the marketplace," said Moiz.

Meanwhile, one low-fare airline that is not jumping on the bandwagon despite being awarded traffic rights by Brunei's Department of Civil Aviation in 2006 is Tiger Airways.

According to a Tiger Airways spokesperson, the airline currently has no plans to fly to Brunei, but will continue evaluating it among other possibilities.

"As part of its successful low-cost business model, Tiger Airways focuses on the profitability of each route, and will add or withdraw routes accordingly," Charles Sng, head of communications at Tiger Airways told the Bulletin.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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