Corporate News

Seair readies new routes with ban lifted

Posted on January 27, 2012

SOUTH EAST Asian Airlines, Inc. (Seair) expects to mount flights to Cebu and Davao from Manila by May at the latest as the carrier awaits delivery of aircraft now that the ban on the carrier’s plans was lifted.

“At present, we’re still finalizing the aircraft acquisition for Cebu and Davao operations... We’re looking at April or May [for the launch of the flights],” Avelino L. Zapanta, Seair president and chief executive, yesterday told BusinessWorld in a chance interview.

Seair was supposed to fly such routes back in July 2011 but other local carriers -- Philippine Airlines, Cebu Air, Inc. (Cebu Pacific), and Air Philippines Corp. (Airphil Express) -- had complained this would merit a violation of cabotage rights.

The law grants the right of transporting goods and passengers between two or more points within the Philippines only to local airlines.

Seair, which was to lease aircraft from Singapore-based Tiger Airways Holdings Ltd. for aircraft, was accused of impinging on local carriers’ rights.

In addition, Seair would also be using Tiger Airways’ reservation system for its marketing and booking needs under the partnership.

Responding to the complaint, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) issued a cease and desist order against Seair’s planned flights.

CAB Resolution No. 1 issued May 18, 2011, specifically ordered Seair to stop the sale of seats for its Manila-Davao and Manila-Cebu routes planned for July.

After months of reviewing the case, CAB lifted the cease and desist order in late October last year.

“We’re just waiting for developments from the sources of the two aircraft that will be acquired for the Cebu and Davao operations,” Mr. Zapanta said.

Seair operates flights to Batanes, Ilocos Sur, Palawan, Caticlan and Romblon.

For international flights, Seair flies to Macau, Hongkong, Bangkok, and Singapore from the carrier’s hub in Clark, Pampanga.

The firm has recently announced flights to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, Mr. Zapanta said.

Mr. Zapanta said, if possible and if allowed, it also plans to fly South Korea and Japan in the future.

In October last year, Seair was among the carriers granted air rights to Malaysia.

CAB granted the carrier 2,520 seats per week on the Clark to Kuala Lumpur route, and 1,260 seats per week on the Clark to Kota Kinabalu route.

Seair was also granted 540 seats per week each on the following routes: Clark to Kuching, Clark to Penang, and Clark to Langkawi. -- Kathleen A. Martin