Philippine Airlines has launched direct flights from Bangkok to Cebu to meet market demand from Asian destinations to the Central Visayas region.
Erwin Balane, head of route development for the Philippine Department of Tourism, said the Philippines has become a popular destination for tourists, especially from South Korea, Japan, Europe, the Americas, China and Southeast Asia, including Thailand.
Last year, 5.8 million foreigners travelled to the country of 7,640 islands. That number is expected to reach 7 million this year and 12 million in 2020.
More than 44,000 Thais visited the Philippines last year. Over 31,600 made trips to the Philippines during first eight months of 2017.
Mr Balane said the Asean Economic Community will help boost intra-regional travel and strengthen air connectivity between Thailand and the Philippines.
“With economic development and tourism growth, the airline wants to capture travel business between Thailand and the Philippines by adding routes through Bangkok and Cebu, which is the second-largest city in the Philippines,” he said.
Dina May Flores, vice-president of revenue management, said the airline expects to operate a 68% cabin factor for the new route for the first year of operations. The airline has managed a cabin factor of 92% in the first few days since the route started on Dec 3, thanks to an introductory round-trip fare starting at 6,000 baht including airport tax.
The airline is planning to offer daily Bangkok-Cebu flights over the next 12 months.
The carrier operates 18 flights per week on the Bangkok-Manila route.
Ms Flores said the airline expects to receive 15 aircraft in 2018; six Airbus A321 Neos, four Airbus A350s and five Bombardier Q400s.
Aileen Santos, area manager for Thailand, said the national airline operates more than 30 domestic and 40 international routes. The airline has been growing 10-20% per year in terms of passenger numbers.
Ms Santos said travellers from Cebu, known as the Queen City of the South, can connect to the following domestic destinations: Bacolod, Busuanga, Butuan, Cagayan, Camiguin, Caticlan, Davao, General Santos, Iloilo, Kalibo, Legazpi, Ozamiz, Puerto Princesa, Siargao and Tacloban. “From Cebu, visitors may also take our flights to Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Seoul (Incheon), Singapore, Chengdu and Beijing,” she said.
The Bangkok-Cebu flights leave Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Source: Bangkok Post