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Cebu Pacific looks at other hubs for Japan route expansion

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By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

NAGOYA — Gokongwei-led Cebu Pacific is looking at launching a direct flight to Japan from Clark, as well as expanding routes from Cebu to address the slot shortage in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Tomohiko Matsumoto, the country manager of the budget carrier in Japan, told reporters over the weekend they are looking to utilize other international airports in the Philippines to cater to the growing demand for flights to and from Japan.

“I think (in) Cebu, Japan is one of the favorite destinations… Right now Narita to Cebu is the only route that we have with Cebu and Japan, direct route, but we may have the routes too from other points to Cebu,” he said.

“I think another one is maybe Clark. That is also another international point… and other international routes are also flying directly (from Clark),” he added.

Cebu Pacific currently has direct flights from Manila to Osaka, Narita, Nagoya and Fukuoka, as well as a direct flight from Cebu to Narita.

“Because Manila is too full, we need to develop (our other hubs)… To grow more, we need to have more hub points to fly in,” Mr. Matsumoto said.

He noted there has been an increasing for flights between the two countries. In 2018, he noted there was a total passenger volume of about 1.1 million to and from the Philippines and Japan.

Data from the Department of Tourism likewise showed Japan is among the country’s top five visitors in terms of volume in 2018, with a total year-to-date tourist arrivals of 485,121 as of September.

“For 2019, the target arrivals from Japan is about 800,000 visitors,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a text message on Monday.

Mr. Matsumoto said the Japanese government would also like to increase its tourism volume from the Philippines.

“I think it’s doable with our capacity increase and… of course other carriers are also increasing their capacity because they see the market growing,” he said.

Of Cebu Pacific’s international operations, Japan contributes 3% of the total passenger volume, making it the third largest after Hong Kong and Singapore.