BUDGET CARRIER Cebu Pacific said it is set to launch in November direct flights between Clark in Pampanga and Guangzhou, China amid increasing demand for leisure and business travel.

“Cebu Pacific will launch next month direct flights between the Clark International Airport and Guangzhou, China, becoming the first Philippine carrier to link the two cities,” the low-cost carrier said in a statement on Saturday.

Flights between Clark and Guangzhou will be operating four times a week beginning Nov. 11: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

“The flight departs Clark at 11:35pm; while the return flight departs at 3:15am of the next day,” it said.

Cebu Pacific said the new route will cater to “increasing demand for leisure and business travel” and it will “further enhance the potential for investments in the special economic zones in Central Luzon, including the 9,450-hectare New Clark City.”

It noted that the Clark International Airport is within proximity to Manila-Clark passenger railway connecting Manila to Clark and a cargo railway connecting Subic to Clark, which are both expected to be operational by 2022.

“With direct air service between Clark and Guangzhou, it will be easier for entrepreneurs and businessmen in the e-commerce space to meet up with suppliers, Cebu Pacific Vice-President for Commercial Alex B. Reyes was quoted as saying in the statement.

Guangzhou, one of China’s nine National Central Cities, is a wholesalers’ “haven for retail and popular consumer goods,” the budget carrier noted.

The low-cost airline currently flies 27 times weekly between the Philippines and mainland China, with direct flights between Shanghai, Manila and Cebu; as well as Manila and Beijing, Guangzhou, Xiamen and Shenzhen.

Cebu Pacific operator Cebu Air, Inc. recorded a 116% growth in its net income in the first half to P7.14 billion, driven by its increased passenger volume and higher average fares.

Shares in Cebu Air went up 20 centavos or 0.22% to close at P92.20 apiece on Friday. — Arjay L. Balinbin