By Zsarlene B. Chua, Reporter
CEBU PACIFIC on Tuesday launched direct flights from Manila to Melbourne, four years after the budget carrier introduced its Sydney route.
“Today, we became the only low cost carrier to operate regular flights between Manila and Melbourne, our second destination in Australia,” Candice Iyog, Cebu Pacific VP for marketing and distribution, during the inaugural ceremony held in Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 on Aug. 14.
The Manila to Melbourne route flies thrice weekly from NAIA Terminal 3.
“This will enable more Australian travelers — from adventure-seekers to leisure tourists to families on holiday — to discover the paradise that is the Philippines. Many of us know that the beaches, the biodiversity and the natural attractions in the Philippines can rival those of Phuket, Pattaya, Bali or Koh Samui,” said Ms. Iyog during her remarks.
This is Cebu Pacific’s second Australian route after it first launched Sydney flights in 2014.
“Sydney is doing well. We’re actually flying the most number of passengers between Philippines and Sydney route,” Ms. Iyog said of the five times weekly route.
The Australian Bureau Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Cities (BITRE), reported in April 2018 that Cebu Pacific is currently the market leader in Manila to Sydney non-stop passenger traffic in 2017 with 40% share against Philippine Airlines and Qantas which has 34% share each.
“If you look at our loads today and looking forward compared to how Sydney started, Melbourne is starting stronger than how Sydney started four years ago,” Ms. Iyog told reporters, noting the load factor of its inaugural flight to Melbourne stood at 88%.
“There’s also a lot of interest from Australians to come to the Philippines because we offer what Australians love: beaches, really cheap beer and a great outdoor experience. Manila is also a good jump off point to other destinations in Asia,” she added.
Amanda Gorely, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines told reporters there is “demand for other parts of Australia to have direct flights from the Philippines,” citing Adelaide, Perth and Darwin.
“We had officials from Darwin here earlier in the year looking at a possibility of having a direct flight,” Ms. Gorely said.