Asian low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific Air is helping to boost trade between the Philippines and Guam, in Micronesia, in the Western Pacific. The airline’s recently launched Manila – Guam route has helped double tourist numbers between the Philippines and the US island territory, helping to reach almost record arrival levels in the process.
Philippine visitors to Guam grew by 125 percent in March 2016, compared to the same month last year, latest data from the Guam Visitors Bureau (GVB) showed. This led to the second best March in Guam's tourism history, with 133,335 visitor arrivals – just a few notches behind March 2013 with 136,728 visitors recorded. Total visitor arrivals for March 2016 rose 0.8 percent year-on-year.
Cebu Pacific Air formally launched its new four times weekly link between Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Manila and Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport, Guam at this year’s Routes Asia in the Philippines’ capital city. The first flight, its inaugural services to the United States of America, took off just days later on March 15, 2016 operated using Airbus A320 equipment.
“This is another demonstration of the 'Cebu Pacific effect.' By making air travel more affordable, we help boost tourism into the destinations we fly to.”Alex Reyes
General Manager for Long-Haul, Cebu Pacific Air
The airline is the only low-cost carrier flying directly between the Philippines and Guam, a market currently served on an up to daily basis by Philippine Airlines from Manila, as well as on an eleven times weekly basis by United Airlines as part of its Pacific network.
"This is another demonstration of the 'Cebu Pacific effect.' By making air travel more affordable, we help boost tourism into the destinations we fly to," said Alex Reyes, general manager for long-haul at Cebu Pacific Air. "We are proud to have contributed to the healthy surge in visitor arrivals into Guam, our first US destination."
Cebu Pacific Air is offering its trademark low fares to the sizeable Filipino community in Guam, which currently comprises about 26 per cent of the island's population, according to the US Central Intelligence Agency World Fact Book.
"Having Guam in our network sets us off on another expansion path across the Pacific. With the launch of Guam, we offer fares that are up to 83 per cent lower than other airlines. Fares this low can only mean more tourists to both countries, more Filipinos visiting home, and more opportunities for everyone," said Alexander Lao, Vice President Commercial Planning, Cebu Pacific Air at Routes Asia.
The data indicating that the Philippines is one of its fastest growing sources of visitor arrivals into Guam supports a routes forecast completed by aviation consultancy ASM (Airport Strategy and Marketing) on behalf of Guam, and which helped to secure this new route from Cebu Pacific Air.
“ASM started to work together with Guam International Airport Authority (GIAA) in 2006, and we’re proud to have contributed to showcasing the potential to GIAA through our route traffic forecasts and representation. At ASM our primary focus is to deliver new routes, and this announcement illustrates the huge impact that a new air service can have for a destination. We look forward to continuing to grow GIAA’s route network.” Nigel Mayes, vice president, consulting and product development, ASM told Routesonline.
In fact discussions on the route can be directly attributed to meetings that occurred at Routes events. “It was in 2012 that Routes first provided us with the opportunity to meet Cebu Pacific Air and we are really excited to be making the final preparations for the launch of this new link from the carrier from Manila,” added Katherine Sgro, Board Director at A. B. Won Pat International Airport.
Guam is a true tropical island situated approximately 900 miles north of the equator and is just 32 miles long and between four and eight miles wide. This helps support a balanced yearly demand and the seasonality profile for the traffic between the Philippines and Guam is relatively flat, with very few peaks or troughs, although there is a lift in demand in the months of November and December.
The island’s international gateway of Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport is currently linked to around 20 destinations with non-stop links to points across the Asia Pacific region from Sapporo, Japan in the north; Cairns, Australia in the south; Hong Kong in the west and as far afield as Honolulu in the East, its longest route.
Around 1.3 million visitors were recorded in the US territory in the last calendar year. This continues to be dominated by the Japanese market, although numbers declined 9.2 per cent versus 2013. South Korea is the other significant international market, growing at a rate of 25.4 per cent, while there were also notable growth in arrivals from China and Russia.
The Philippines is currently the fourth largest O&D country market in and out of Guam behind Japan, South Korea and the US. An estimated 107,000 passengers flew between the Philippines and Guam last year, according to Sabre MIDT data, although this number has declined from a high in 2012 due to fluctuations in the schedule and aircraft deployment from Philippine Airlines on its route from Manila.