Tugade: Aeronautics board supports new airline plan for Bacolod
BACOLOD — In the interest of more competition and better passenger options, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) fully supports the intention of Philippines AirAsia to enter the Bacolod market, said Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.
This was relayed to Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia and businessman Eduardo Alunan on Friday by Finance Secretary Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez III and Rep. Mikee Romero (1-Pacman Party-List), a major shareholder and vice chairman of Philippines AirAsia.
Leonardia said Romero told him that AirAsia expected to serve the Bacolod route in about a month, after complying with procedures of the CAB.
Alunan, who has been at the forefront of the campaign to bring down airfare cost for Negrenses, said the airfares of the two airlines – Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines – flying the Manila-Bacolod Silay Airport-Manila route were excessive.
Alunan sought the help of Dominguez, who informed him yesterday that Tugade provided the procedure for granting AirAsia the needed flight slots for the Manila-Bacolod-Manila route.
Tugade said AirAsia has to apply for the necessary flight slots out of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport that would be granted if there are available ones in the time block that they prefer.
If there are no slots in the preferred time block, the tri-agency committee composed of the Manila International Airport Authority, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and CAB may exercise its authority to reallocate in favor of Air Asia slots held by other airlines, which are not properly utilized, based on the 80/20 rule for slot utilization, Tugade said.
Holders of slots are required to use them at least 80 percent of the time, he said.
The tri-agency committee is drafting a joint circular aimed at recalling back to the pool slots not properly utilized so that those in need of more slots may apply for them, Tugade said.
The reallocation of slots would also depend on the capacity of the applicant to actually utilize them, he added.
Alunan said he thanked Dominguez for taking up the airfare concern of Negros with Tugade.
“Soon the airline travel peak season will end. We will see airline rates drop but we must not be lulled to complacency lest airfares be increased to P20,000 round trip to Manila this Christmas season. We must move now,” he said.
Leonardia also said yesterday that Tugade assured Romero that the CAB fully supports the intention of AirAsia to enter the Bacolod market.
The mayor had asked Romero sometime ago for the budget airline to fly to Bacolod.
Leonardia said he met with Romero a few days ago in Manila and reminded him again about the plan, amid the brewing clamor from local passengers to bring down airfare rates in Bacolod.
Romero then assured the mayor that he would put Bacolod-Silay Airport among their “top priority additional routes.”
“Congressman Romero and I are in constant communication these days to ensure the entry of another airline,” Leonardia said.
When a third airline comes in, we should expect lower airfares for our local riding public, the mayor said.
Leonardia said that, as he thanks Romero, Tugade and Dominguez, he would also lobby with civil aviation agencies to allow other airlines to serve the Bacolod market.
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