PAL, Cebu Pacific continue to mount flights to HK

August 27, 2010 10:58 am 

MANILA, Aug. 26 – Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific on Thursday said the number of booking cancellations from Hong Kong and China has started to rise after the bloody hostage drama in Manila.

“PAL is beginning to feel the initial impact of a Hong Kong government advisory warning its residents to refrain from all travel to the Philippines," Jaime Bautista, PAL president and chief operating officer, said.

Bautista said at least 558 Manila-bound bookings were canceled. The bookings consisted of tourists from Hong Kong, Beijing, Xiamen and other points in China.

He estimated a revenue loss of $ 167,000 for the canceled bookings.

Despite the negative travel advisory, Bautista said PAL continued to mount five daily flights to and from the former Crown Colony.

“We’re closely monitoring the situation and will decide soon whether we will maintain or reduce flights. We share the grief and understand the Hong Kong people’s wrath. We are optimistic that fears of traveling to the Philippines will be temporary,” Bautista said.

He said that the Chinese market was "very important" for PAL's revenue.

Bautista said Hong Kong contributed about 6 percent of PAL's total revenue, while China contributes 3.3 percent and Macau 0.4 percent.

PAL flies 43 times weekly from Manila to China and vice versa.

"We hope there will be no more cancellations," Bautista said, adding that the airlines load factor might be affected by the Luneta incident.

"Before the Luneta incident, our average load factor is in the high 70 for all flights. Our load factor in Hong Kong and China is in the high of 70. Yesterday the load factor has not that bad.

But, we're expecting a lower load factor in the coming days," Bautista said.

To offset the impact of the hostage-taking incident to the company, PAL will offer promotional fares to attract more foreign tourists.

"We will revisit this program. we might offer more seats," he said.

Bautista is hopeful that the government would resolve the problem immediately.

“We understand that Philippine officials in Hong Kong met with the latter’s legislative and travel councils and assured them that the Philippines is still a safe and viable tourist destination. We are looking forward that it will soon lead to the lifting of the travel restrictions,” Bautista said.

Candice Iyog, Cebu Pacific's vice president for marketing and distribution, said her company received rebookings and cancel requests from less than 2 percent or 50 passengers of the total number of passengers for the airline's Hong Kong routes.

"We're hoping it won't get worse," Iyog said.

She said that Cebu Pacific did not cancel any flights to Hong Kong.

The airline flies five-times daily from Manila to Hong Kong starting Nov. 24. (PNA) RMA/DGA/utb

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