PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE– DOMESTIC carriers are banking steeply for a new dogfight, offering ultra-low or “zero fares” to passengers to increase their share of the booming travel market.
And that fight is expected to toughen further this year with the formation of PAL Express, Philippine Airlines’ new budget carrier that’s expected to serve 22 inter-island routes initially.
Air Philippines, businessman Lucio Tan’s existing budget carrier, yesterday offered zero fares on flights to Bacolod, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa, Zamboanga and Davao scheduled from June 16 to Oct. 31 and booked until May 25.
The airline’s new promo followed similar campaigns from Asian Spirit and Cebu Pacific, which introduced “free fares” earlier this year.
Asian Spirit offered zero fares on 12,000 free seats on all its domestic flights from June 1 to Oct. 15 this year. Booking started April 9 and ended April 30.
Cebu Pacific, the Gokongwei group’s budget carrier, said it was offering more than 500,000 domestic and international seats for free from May 15 to 18—or until all allocated seats were taken—for travel from June 9 to Dec. 31 this year.
Air Philippines said tickets would not be entirely free as passengers still must shoulder fuel and insurance surcharges and pay government taxes. Passengers flying between Manila and any destination in the Visayas would still have to pay P1,770 each, and those flying to Davao P2,128 each.
Cebu Pacific said it offered its new promo following the delivery of new aircraft to the carrier.
“We continue to expand and take delivery of brand-new planes, and so we are putting seats that would have been empty on sale,” said Candice Iyog, the carrier’s vice president for marketing.
Its domestic seats with zero fares aside, Cebu Pacific has also allocated more than 100,000 seats on its international routes with zero fares.
“We believe this offering will further stimulate domestic and international travel amid rising fuel costs,” Iyog said.
Cebu Pacific recently took delivery of its 18th brand-new Airbus aircraft. It also has two turbo-prop ATR 72 aircraft that it uses for short-haul travel to routes including the Manila-Caticlan segment.