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MANILA - South East Asian Airlines has suspended its leisure flights in preparation for the operation of a new carrier this month.
During the alunch of its Manila-Cebu flight, Avelino Zapanta, Seair president, told reporters that a new airline called Seair I will be created catering to "exotic" destinations such as Basco, Batanes and El Nido, Palawan. As such, flights to those destinations have been suspended effective June 30.
Seair suspended these flights in line with Tiger Airways Holdings Inc.’s acquisition of a 40 percent stake in the Philippine carrier.
Tiger’s wholly owned subsidiary, Roar Aviation II Pte. Ltd., bought 40 percent of Seair for $7 million from existing foreign shareholders.
"Actually the company has been established and the CPCN was issued by CAB. We are now awaiting the temporary Air Operator Certificate from Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines," Zapanta said, referring to the certificate of public convenience and necessity issued by the Civil Aeronautics Board.
Zapanta said Seair I will also fly to other destinations that rival Zest Airways Inc. will abandon by October, such as Marinduque, Masbate, among others.
He said Seair I will use Dornier 328s and Let 410 UVP-Es for its exotic destinations.
"After four or five years - when we are ready - we will fly medium to long haul flights. In the meantime, we will establish our routes in the exotic destinations where we are flying," Zapanta said.
"We will not operate short haul, so as not to compete with our own airline which is Seair," he added.
Zapanta said Seair I would be owned by Iren Dornier, Nikos Gitsis and other Filipino shareholders. Tiger Airways however would not be part of the new company.
On Tuesday, Seair launched three daily flights between Manila and Cebu from the Manila Domestic Airport using the 144-seater Airbus 319 aircraft.
This is part of the expansion of Seair’s domestic operations to seven cities nationwide including Iloilo, Bacolod, Kalibo, Tacloban, Davao, and Puerto Princesa.
“Cebu is one of the most important destinations in the country and its central location makes it a major gateway to the islands in the Visayas region. Our presence here means an increase in trade and tourism in the region, as well as job generation,” Patrick Tan, Seair chief operating officer said.
With the addition of three daily flights to Cebu, 300,000 arrivals are expected every year, creating 300 jobs directly and indirectly, according to international statistics.
Seair recently converted its operations from that of a leisure airline to a low-cost carrier with a fleet of three Airbus A320s and two A319s.
It offers flights from Clark to Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Kota Kinabalu, and Kalibo.
“The change in business model can only enhance our passenger experience of short and safe flights from one island destination to another. The new Airbus planes are more spacious and can accommodate up to 180 seats with generous legroom. And, in comparison to other airlines servicing the same destinations, Seair offers the lowest fares in the market,” Tan said.
Seair plans to launch more domestic flights to Naga, Legaspi, Bohol, Cagayan De Oro, Zamboanga, General Santos, and Tawi-tawi, as well as international flights to Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Indonesia.
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