Continental to Upgrade Manila Service

November 29, 2009

HAGATNA, Guam - Continental Micronesia is upgrading its service between Guam and Manila starting next year, says Ramon Magno, general manager of Continental Airlines in the Philippines.

The announcement came after Continental Micronesia President Charles Duncan declared Tuesday the airlines plan for its Guam hub expansion as it partake in the $15 billion U.S. military build-up in Guam. Duncan became the president of Continental Micronesia in July as the airline heightened its focus on travel in the Asia-Pacific region.

Duncan said there are 1,200 Continental employees on Guam and Micronesia operates 12 planes of the airline's global fleet, mainly consisting of Boeing 737-800 for Asia Pacific Region and Boeing 767-400 for its service to Japan.

In the meantime, Guam Senator Judith P. Guthertz, chairperson on Guam military build-up an homeland security, said that at least 15,000 Filipino workers would be hired starting next year until 2014 for construction efforts in the Island when the build-up is supposed to be completed.

She said the H2 Visa, which restricts the entry of foreign skilled workers, has been lifted by the U.S. government for Guam paving the way for the entry of foreign workers.

The 15,000 jobs from the Philippine labor market that would be created until 2014 do not yet include the projects to be funded by the Japanese government, which agreed to fund the relocation facilities for the U.S. Navy that would be transferred from the U.S. naval base in Okinawa.

Guthertz said that its labor recruit from the Philippines may rise twice as expected because of ancillary and other support services that needs to be build as the military build-up would require new road networks, water and sewerage, power, housing, hospitals and other infrastructure. There will also be build-up off base.

Guam used to be a province of the Philippines during the Spanish period. The island separated from the the Philippines when it opted for Independence in 1946. At least 30 percent of Guam’s population is of Filipino ancestry and that Filipinos were in the forefront in the reconstruction of Guam after the World War II.

"For Guam, the visa waiver program and the military buildup will be the two largest influences to shape the future of the tourism industry", Duncan said. He added that the expectation from Continental is that the buildup will bring more Filipino workers here. He said further that the airline may have to consider more flights to and from Manila. Duncan said Continental is already doing its own data analysis and study of opportunities to decide whether to book more flights, or perhaps bring in bigger aircraft to serve Guam-Manila market.

"It is this market that we are trying to catch" says Magno. Continental Micronesia Airlines flies daily from Manila to Guam. "However, flights between Manila and Saipan that was ended in July 16, 2008 may not be restored at all" he said.

Traffic to Saipan has mostly been fueled by Filipino nurses taking National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) at the PearsonVue testing center in the US island. Nurses from the Philippines and other foreign countries need to take and pass the NCLEX to be eligible to practice nursing in the United States and its territories, including Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).

When NCLEX was offered in the Philippines in August 2007, passenger traffic to the island substantially dropped prompting the airline to drop its service there, adds Magno.

Meanwhile, not to be left out of the boom, Philippine Airlines is prepared to double its capacity to Guam by flying twice daily when the need arises. Currently, PAL flies 4 times a week to the US territory from Manila using Airbus 320 aircraft. But it may be constrained to put its additional capacity on hold because of the category 2 status of the country imposed by FAA, the aviation regulatory agency of the Island Federation.

Zest Air Post Biggest Surprise

Registers 179% Growth

November 28, 2009

Manila - Zest Airways managed to pull the biggest surprise in the Philippine aviation market as it registers unprecedented growth in the domestic market that grew by nearly a third in the first nine months of the year, data from the Civil Aeronautics Board(CAB) said.

"The biggest surprise we have is the Alfredo Yao headed airline which registered an unprecedented growth rate of almost 200 percent and it seems that they may as yet exceed that expectation considering that the figures we have is only for the first three quarters" Porvenir Porciuncula, CAB deputy executive director said.

According to the CAB data, domestic air passengers rose by 29.5 percent to 11.09 million at end-September compared with the 8.57 million in the same period last year.

"It means they are either growing too fast or started eating the market share of others" Porciuncula added.

Cebu Pacific (CEB) remained the leading domestic airline in the country as of the third quarter, having carried more passengers at the end of September at 5.3 million, up 35.9 percent from 3.9 million last year.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) on the other hand flew more than CEB at 4.6 million passengers, up 36 percent more from 3.4 million last year.

But Zest Airways (RIT) passenger count jumped 179 percent to 859,544 passengers from last year’s 308,035 passengers.

The biggest loser was Air Philippines (GAP) with traffic dropped at -59 percent to 320,651 from last year’s 781,437 figures.

Southeast Asian Airlines (SEAIR) also recorded a -37.8 percent decline in its passengers having flown only 127,600 from last year’s 175,842.

"From the data we gathered it seems that Zest Air already took 10.2 percent from the other players most of it coming from Air Philippines" He said.

Zest Air is now considered by CAB as the third biggest airline in the Philippines next to Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines. It is followed next by Air Philippines and Seair in that order.

CAB also reported that the industry’s load factor, which is equivalent to the number of seats occupied during the third quarter went up to 78.6 percent from the 77 percent in the same period in 2008 fueled by aggressive promotional offers.

The total number of seats of the five domestic airlines reached 14.11 million as compared to last year’s 11.07 million. Porciuncula expects domestic air travel to grow between 10-12 percent this year.

Cargo however is still down. Statistics from CAB also showed that air cargo carried by airlines dropped 1 percent to 100.4 million kilograms from 101.4 million in the same nine-month period as compared to the figures last year.

Data indicate that of the total freight, PAL carried 44.6 million kilograms; Air Philippines, 805,913; Cebu Pacific, 52.3 million; SEAIR, 268,902; and Pacific East Asia Cargo, 2.6 million. No data was available for Zest Air.

Bird Strikes Plagued Local Airlines

Alarms Raised on BASH Airports
Manila, Iloilo, and Puerto Princesa heads the pack;
Cebu, Clark, Kalibo and Ozamiz not far behind

By Rudy Santos
November 26, 2009

MANILA, Philippines - Officials of Cebu Pacific (CEB) and Philippine Airlines (PAL) briefed representatives of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and Manila International Airport Authority yesterday regarding the increasing number of bird strike incidents in the country, and the air safety concern bird strikes pose.

A bird strike is defined as a collision between an aircraft and a bird. This causes flight delays or cancellations since the aircraft has to undergo strict safety checks before being allowed back into service.

CEB and PAL officials urged CAAP and concerned government agencies to double their efforts to prevent bird hazards in the country’s airports.

CEB safety director Capt. Felipe Timola Jr. voiced his concern over the increasing number of bird strike incidents, from 14 in 2008 to 54 as of last October. In October alone, there were 19 such incidents.

“Out of the 54 incidents this year, there were seven that resulted in major damage to CEB aircraft. We are very committed to providing safe air travel to our guests, and would like to highlight the importance of preventing more bird strike incidents in the future,” Timola said.

He said airports in Manila, Iloilo and Puerto Princesa as the locations with the most number of bird strike incidents so far this year.

Aside from the three airports mentioned, other airports with reported bird strike incidents affecting the CEB domestic network include Bacolod, Cebu, Clark, Kalibo and Ozamiz.

Also present in the briefing were representatives from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

CAAP Installs FR-AIS technology

Joins Eurocontrol on AIS automation

November 23, 2009

Belgium - The Philippines joined Eurocontrol this week as its aviation authority successfully connected its Aeronautical Information Service Database System (PhADS) to the European AIS Database (EAD) using Frequentis FR-AIS technology, the first country in Asia-Pacific to do so. It was originally scheduled to connect service in May 2009 but the project was hammered by budgetary delays deferring its connection date last week.

The PhADS under the New CNS/ATM Systems Development Project is funded by Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). This system will be fully commissioned by 2012. PhADS fully complies with ICAO SARPs, Eurocontrol Standards for AICM, AIXM, AMXM, WXXM and ISO 19100 Series. The installed system scope covers the development of static database, NOTAM (including future xNOTAM), flight plans, Pre-flight Information Bulletins (PIB), eAIP, electronic Mapping and Charting (eMAP/eCHART), the Internet service, eTOD Justify Full and electronic Meteorological Data (eMET).

The EAD service, established by 38 Eurocontrol member states and operational since 2003, has recently been joined by increasing numbers of non-European states with the United States, Japan and Australia scheduled to connect next year.

The FR-AIS technology will automatically enable international airlines from accessing the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) database the latest aeronautical and weather information on a destinations airport.

The Philippine’s AIS yields information about the country’s airports by providing maps, charts, route of flights, available navigational aids and their locations, ongoing constructions of airports and facilities and upgrading of other services.

The procured FR-AIS system brings together a number of components selected on a ‘best of kind’ basis to form the integrated system. Advantages of the EAD service include the combination of a single database entity, advanced data verification and validation facilities, and the idea of real-time information sharing between ANSPs.

Christian Troemer, Chief Regional Officer of Frequentis, the firm that was awarded by CAAP to construct and install the AIS, said that the aviation agency recover its expenses by charging fees mostly to airline companies which uses the database.

With the Eurocontrol connection CAAP can now be able to connect online on a 24/7 basis to all EAD services. CAAP will actively participate in EAD by providing AIS information to all participants, and will also be capable of adding and editing NOTAMs, AIPs, charts, and other static data of the Philippines, and make such accessible to all other EAD member countries.

The project itself is primed by local company Integrated Energy Systems & Resources Inc (IESRI) who will handle the integration of all AIS components as well as various after-sales and support services.

Cambodia opens Philippine Route

Cebu Pacific allowed fly next year !

November 20, 2009

By May Kunmakara
Phnom Penh Post

Phnom Penh- Cebu Pacific Air, a Philippines-based airline, plans to begin direct flights between the Philippines and Cambodia in the spring of 2010, but the airline have yet to determine a specific launch date for the service, Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said Tuesday.

“Cebu Air is authorised to start flying to our country in March or April next year,” he said, citing a memorandum of understanding signed by Cambodia’s State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on September 16 to open the airways between the two countries.

The agreement is the fourth Cambodia has made this year allowing direct flights. The SSCA has also inked deals with Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Under the terms of the agreement, up to seven flights a week originating from Cambodia are authorised to land at Manila, 14 in the Clark Freeport Zone and another 14 for any point in the Philippines outside the two aviation centres.

The Philippines is a major tourism hub in Southeast Asia, Thong Khon said, adding that the deal would draw more tourists directly from the Philippines as well as offer another transfer point for tourists travelling from other locations.

“I hope that tourism from the Philippines will increase further,” he said. “Moreover, with the new flights, we plan not only to attract Filipino tourists, but we also aim to draw tourists from other countries,” he said.

Filipinos do not require a visa to visit Cambodia; nor do Cambodians require a Philippine visa to travel there, Thong Khon said.

Air traffic at the two main Cambodian international airports, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, fell 12.96 percent in the first nine months of 2009 year-on-year, according to Tourism Ministry figures, but the number of tourists arriving from the Philippines bucked the trend. According to ministry’s numbers, 36,608 tourists arrived from the Philippines in the first nine months of 2009, 29.36 percent up from the same period a year earlier.

The Philippines ambassador in Phnom Penh could not be reached for comment, Tuesday.

SSCA Cabinet Chief Long Chheng said the two sides were currently working on ironing out the details of the flights. “I am not sure of the exact date the flights will commence because I have received no confirmation,” he said, adding that an Air Service Agreement (ASA) still must to be signed by both parties.

The SSCA is actively pursuing additional open-skies agreements to boost the tourism sector, Long Chheng said. “We welcome the direct flights from the Philippines and hope they start as soon as possible,” he said. “That will be very good for our tourism sector.”

The SSCA and the CAAP had been working on the agreement since 2007.

PAL flies back to Brisbane

After 10-year absence

November 19, 2009

Manila - Philippines Airlines (PAL) confirmed plans to fly back to Brisbane next year after accepting delivery of its first brand new Boeing 777-300ER which arrived last night straight from the Boeing plant in Everett, Washington, PAL President Jaime Bautista said.

"Another triple seven will joined our fleet next year to make that route possible" says Bautista. "The first triple seven is already scheduled to take Manila-Hong Kong route starting November 24" he said.

"With the arrival of the second triple seven we can already manage their schedule so that it can fly to Tokyo by February and triangular service to Sydney and Melbourne by March next year. We are looking for a thrice a week service to Brisbane and two extra flights to serve Melbourne effectively almost making it a daily flight. But we are still studying our option whether to continue with the triangular route." Bautista added.

The delivery flight was loaded with relief goods intended for victims of typhoon Ondoy donated by various humanitarian organizations in the United States.

The extended range jet is the first 777 to join PAL’s fleet and is one of two leased 777-300ERs the airline will use for major international routes like Hong Kong (starting Nov. 24), Tokyo (February 2010) and Sydney and Melbourne (by mid-March 2010)

The airline is looking at twice-weekly flights to the Queensland capital in a triangular service with Melbourne and Manila, the Philippine capital. PAL currently operates a five times weekly service linking Manila, Melbourne and Sydney. That will revert to a daily service by the end of the November following an improvement in economic conditions. Two of the services were suspended in September following the downturn.

Bautista said the Manila-Melbourne-Brisbane-Manila services will start on March 10 if management goes ahead with the plan. Further route network talks are expected to take place soon with a decision likely before the end of the month.

“The flight to Brisbane have been on the management table for quite sometime but because we only have a few planes we can't easily expand.” Bautista added.

Boeing Delivers First 777 to Philippine Airlines

Milestone delivery carries humanitarian relief supplies for Filipino flood victims

EVERETT, Wash., Nov. 18 -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) today delivered a 777-300ER (Extended Range) to U.S.-based leasing company GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) and its customer, Philippine Airlines (PAL) .

The new airplane is the first 777 to join PAL's fleet and is one of two leased 777-300ERs the airline will deploy on its international routes. In addition the airline has four more 777-300ERs on order directly from Boeing from 2007.

Boeing, PAL and three non-profits leveraged this delivery to bring relief to residents who were recently devastated by the massive floods from Typhoon Ketsana. With the help of AmeriCares, Humanitarian International Services Group (HISG) and Kids Against Hunger, Boeing and PAL loaded nearly 18,000 pounds of medical supplies and packaged meals into the cargo hold of the 777-300ER.

"It is our great hope that this collaborative effort will bring some comfort to the flood victims during this very challenging time," said Fred Kiga, vice president, State and Local Government Relations and Global Corporate Citizenship for the Northwest Region.

Jaime J. Bautista, PAL president, who led a small PAL delegation that joined the delivery flight to Manila, said he was glad to be able to personally deliver the relief donations to the Philippines. "The airlift of relief goods is inherent to our mandate as the Philippines flag carrier. Earlier, we conducted a similar airlift of relief from local donors. I am sure these donations will go a long way in alleviating the plight of the victims and help in rebuilding their lives," Bautista said.

The addition of the 777-300ER to the PAL fleet brings new twin-engine efficiency to the airline's long-haul fleet. The airplanes are powered by General Electric GE90-115BLs, the world's largest and most powerful commercial jet engine. The 777-300ER is well known for its cargo capacity -- up to 7,120 cubic feet (201.6 cubic meters).

"The Boeing 777-300ER is a great choice for PAL, giving Asia's first commercial airline the most efficient airplane in the 300-to-400 seat segment," said Rob Laird, vice president of Sales for East and Southeast Asia Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "It provides the airline the flexibility to serve key markets worldwide while offering its passengers the highest levels of comfort and reliability."

Philippine Airlines, the national flag carrier, conducted its first flight March 15, 1941, and has been operating longer than any other airline in Asia. PAL is a long-time Boeing customer and currently operates five Boeing 747-400s.

The Boeing 777-300ER is 19 percent lighter than its closest competitor, greatly reducing its fuel requirement. It produces 22 percent less carbon dioxide per seat and costs 20 percent less to operate per seat. The airplane can seat up to 365 passengers in a three-class configuration and has a maximum range of 7,930 nautical miles (14,685 km). The 777 family is the world's most successful twin-engine, twin-aisle airplane. Fifty-seven customers around the world have ordered more than 1,100 777s.

Asia-Pacific Airlines battered by heavy losses

November 16, 2009

By Amado Macasaet

The airline industry all over the world has been battered by heavy losses – some in the billions of dollars – caused by the recession and higher prices of aviation gas.

The recession that set in early last year reduced the number of airplane passengers by an average of higher than 15 per cent. Fuel costs, however, have been steady at higher levels.

In some cases, the losses were made heavier by operating non-airline activities like catering, ground-handling, information technology and reservation services.

These operations are manpower intensive but do not produce desired profits.

A reduction in the number of passengers is the main reason for the huge losses. Non-aircraft activities have their own share, according to information obtained by Malaya Business Insight.

The airlines in Asia seem to have incurred the heaviest losses. Garuda Airlines of Indonesia, for example, took a loss of $4.3 billion last year.

Data obtained from various sources show that Garuda has 66 aircraft. It has options to buy 60 more. It employs 9,000 people.

Cathay Pacific with a large fleet of 123 airplanes, not including orders for 36 more, reported a full-year ending March 2009, loss of $1.104 billion. This is the first time that Cathay lost that much money since the 1997 financial crisis.

The airline had to scrap planned dividends. It was locked in higher fuel prices than prevailing in the market. It hedged wrong.

Thai Airways with 88 airplanes which flew almost 20 million passengers last year took a loss of close to $600 million on revenues of $5.68 billion.

Japan Airlines is one of the largest in the world with a fleet of 185 aircraft plus orders for 57 more and options for another 20. It reported losses of one billion dollars.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) posted sales of $1.7 billion from 216 aircraft, but the decline in the number of passengers for the entire industry, resulted in a loss of $306 million.

ANA has 77 destinations.

Among all the airlines in the world flying international, Philippine Airlines has the smallest fleet of 39 aircraft but it has 8,000 workers in its payroll.

PAL has 110 departures for its domestic operations and 45 for international routes. It reported gross revenues of $1.55 billion but posted a loss of $301 million.

The Philippine flag carrier flew 5.4 million domestic passengers and four million passengers for foreign destinations.

PAL has only 24 foreign destinations, most of which are in Southeast Asia, and 18 domestic routes. In fact, PAL’s longest haul is limited to the West Coast and Vancouver in Canada. The Vancouver flight goes as far as Las Vegas.

United Airlines of the United States flies 45 million passengers on its 409 aircraft which have 200 destinations.

It reported revenues of $2.02 billion but incurred a loss of $63 million.

Continental Airlines raked in revenues of $15 billion from its 604 airplanes but like most of the airlines in the world, reported a loss of $18 million although it has 262 scheduled destinations and 2,423 daily departures.

Continental has five hubs in New York, Newark in New Jersey, Houston in Texas; Cleveland in Ohio and Guam.

Lufthansa has a large fleet of 534 aircraft that flies more than 70 million passengers a year. Its revenues last year amounted to $33.86 billion but reported a loss of $300 million.

British Airways has orders for 51 aircraft to add to its existing 234. Like the other airlines, it reported a loss of $554 million.

Qantas, the Australian airline, reported a loss of $341 million on its 239 aircraft

An official of a foreign airline with offices in Makati explained that fuel accounts for the heaviest cost averaging 40 per cent of total.

When prices of aviation gas go up, fuel costs are magnified.

The airlines in the Middle East have a competitive edge over all the airlines in the world. Their fuel costs is only 30 per cent of total operating costs.

Their respective governments give fuel subsidies.

The official said deliveries of new aircraft will either be delayed or cancelled until such time that air travel goes back to normal.

Philippine Airlines loses $18 million on first half

While Cebu Pacific profit soars.

November 15, 2009

Long Haul Hurts
Flag carrier Philippine Airlines loses its $35 million gains made in the first quarter of its fiscal year after registering an operating loss of $68.5 million as compared to the $30.1 million loss it suffered for the same period last year, a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange said.

The airline disclosed Friday that
it managed to reduce a total comprehensive loss to $18.6 million from April to September, compared with $113 million for the same period last year, mainly attributed to one-time gains and reduced fuel prices, but some of its operating cost remained high prompting it to seek dramatic reduction of its workforce.

Meanwhile, its generated revenue dropped 17 percent to $716.4 million as compared with last year’s figure of $857.7 million mainly because of lower yields as it tried to offer international seats at a discount to fill its aircraft.

Already, the airline introduced reduction of capacity to its trans-pacific and Australian route to reflect the actual demand of the market which is still affected by the global downturn. It derived most of its revenue on international flights accounting almost 70 percent of its total revenue collection. Operating revenue for the first half of the year totaled $618.7 million, down by 25 percent from $825.3 million.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the airline industry is showing signs of recovery as there has been no further deterioration of business activity during the last eight months of the year, but still there was no positive development on legacy carriers such as Philippine Airlines where its international traffic have yet to rebound this year.

Passengers travelling in front cabins represent less than 10 per cent of the total number, but they typically contribute 30-40 per cent of an airline's revenue. Philippine Airlines premium segment or business class seat was the worst hit during the financial crisis as banks and corporations slashed jobs and business travel budgets to and from the Philippines while fewer OFW's returned home during the period.

A recovery in this segment is considered critical for Full Service Carrier (FSC)'s such as Philippine Airlines revenue generation. Increase of its passengers were mainly noted on its domestic service which while profitable generates the lowest yield and accounting no more than 30 percent of its revenue portfolio.

Philippine Airlines joined industry leader Singapore Airlines in the red with losses at $114 million. But the biggest loser in the industry is Japan Airlines which is forecasting to lose more than $1-billion in 2009.

The airline is expecting a traffic and performance rebound on its third quarter as it capitalize on the approach of the holiday season, a period where most Filipinos travel back home to visit their relatives. It however estimates that yields are unlikely to return to normal as other airlines compete to fill its seats as well.

PAL said that it will accept delivery of its first wide-body jet after 14 years in November 19, a Boeing 777-300ER which is the most fuel-efficient twin-engine airliner in the world having the most spacious passenger cabins for its class. It is scheduled to fly to Hong-Kong initially but will be flown eventually to Singapore, Vancouver, Sydney and Melbourne pending the FAA category downgrade. Its second triple seven is scheduled to arrive early next year while the four remaining type will join the fleet starting 2012.

Cebu Pacific registers $37 million profit

On the other hand, low cost carrier Cebu Pacific Airways registered a net profit of $37 million dollars in contrast to the luckluster performance of its rival Philippine Airlines, which managed to register gross revenue amounting to $345 million dollars for the first three quarters of its calendar year, according to its financial statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The airline said that additional routes, increase in flight frequencies and capacity hike due to the delivery of additional aircraft to its growing fleet of Airbus 320's and ATR 72's boosted the airline‘s financial performance, swinging to a profit of P1.78 billion against a net loss of P1.87 billion($39 million) it registered a year ago.

Zest takes the third spot and growing fast.

Meanwhile, Zest Airways reported a growing number of passengers that it carried during the first nine months of the year as it slowly eat the domestic market pie of both Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific. It has yet to submit the official figures to CAB but the airline is already the third biggest carrier in the country based on number of passengers carried, surpassing the capacity of Air Philippines which hold the number three spot for quite sometime, an airline statement said.

Airline President Alfredo Yao is already pleased with the performance of his fledgling airline as it recently opened another international point to Hong-Kong from Clark in October 24 and the route so far has been operating with impressive loads that some of its flight were already fully booked. It will re-start flying to Seoul from Kalibo again on December 4 with the delivery of another brand new A320 from Toulouse, France.

“Our A320s provide our passengers with added space and comfort. It has proven to be reliable and operate at cost-efficient levels,” says airline CEO Alfredo Yao.

Zest Air’s Hong Kong and Seoul trip will make use of brand-new 162/168-seater Airbus 320 which offers the most comfortable legroom from a single-aisle plane coming from a low cost service operator with enough legroom and space to move.

The airline is already fast gaining a foothold in the aviation industry as the better transport alternative which created a buzz among business and budget conscious travelers as an airline of choice with far better service than its rivals.

SEAIR Director awarded by US DOD

November 9, 2009

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Nikos Gitsis, Seair Director

MANILA, Philippines - South East Asian Airlines(SEAIR) director Nikos Gitsis is the first Philippine employer to receive the Patriot Award from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a US Department of Defense agency.

Established in 1972, ESGR aims to gain and maintain employer support for the US National Guard and Reserve members by recognizing outstanding support.

Gitsis was nominated by Neil Lladoc, a SEAIR employee who is now a US Naval Reserve member stationed in New York.

Lladoc is grateful for the encouragement that Gitsis and his peers at SEAIR gave him during his tenure in the company.

“Today, supportive employers are critical to maintaining the strength and readiness of the US National Guard and Reserve units,” said US army retired Maj. Gen. Benny Paulino, field chairman of the ESGR Guam-Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI) Com-mittee.

Air France ordered to pay P1.3 million

For a vacation that became a nightmare

November 8, 2009

By Rey E. Requejo

The Supreme Court of the Philippines has ordered Air France to pay a Filipino traveler P1.3 million for breach of contract, a failure that caused his overseas trip to become an ordeal instead of a pleasurable one.

The Court’s First Division denied Air France’s petition to reverse a Makati court’s decision finding for the traveler, John Anthony de Camilis, and the Court of Appeals’ decision affirming it.

“Both the Regional Trial Court and the [appeals court] have competently ruled on the issue of respondent’s entitlement to damages and attorney’s fees, as they properly laid down both the factual and legal bases for their respective decisions,” Associate Justice Renato Corona said.

“We see no reason to disturb their findings.”

De Camilis said he went on a pilgrimage to Europe with a group of Filipinos—in what year it wasn’t clear—but Air France’s agent in Paris failed to inform him that he needed a transit visa to Moscow. As a result, he was denied entry to the Russian capital and endured a humiliating interrogation by the police.

He also complained that another Air France agent, a Ms. Soeyesol, rudely denied his request to contact his travel companions to inform them that he was being sent back to Paris from Moscow with a police escort.

Soeyesol even reported him as a security threat, resulting in his being further questioned by the police in Paris and Rome, and canceled his flight coupons for the rest of his trip.

Air France’s agents in Rome also refused to honor his confirmed flight to Paris for his connecting flight to Manila.

Philippine's one and only orbital satellite sold

Asia Broadcast Satellite To Acquire Agila-2

N0vember 8, 2009

Manila - Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) said yesterday that it has agreed to sell all its 67- percent stake in Mabuhay Satellite Corp. to Asia Broadcast Holdings Ltd. (ABS), a Bermuda-based company engaged in the satellite business.

PLDT said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange that the purchase agreement would become effective after the completion of a due diligence and regulatory approvals in the Philippines and the US, a separate joint statement said.

Agila-2 satellite (ABS) MSC's Agila-2 satellite is a Space Systems/Loral FS-1300 spacecraft that was launched in August 20, 1997. The satellite has a payload consisting of 24 Standard C- and 6 Extended C-band transponders covering Asia from India to Philippines, Japan to Indonesia, and a C-band spot beam over Hawaii to provide connectivity to the USA. The satellite also has 24 Ku-band transponders covering the Philippines, Coastal China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, providing capacity for TV distribution, DTH and VSAT services.

The MSC Subic Space Center is a state-of-the-art satellite communications facility in the Philippines providing full satellite operations, payload and client monitoring, tracking, telemetry and control services, and a f
ull Network Operations Center (NOC) managed 24/7 by highly trained professionals since January 1, 1998.

“The transactions between Mabuhay Satellite and ABS involve the wholesale lease by ABS of the Agila-2 satellite from Mabuhay Satellite and, upon the satisfaction of various conditions precedent, the purchase of ABS of the business of Mabuhay Satellite,” says Gabriel Pimentel, MBC CEO.

“ABS, while one of the youngest satellite operators in Asia, has been very progressive with the recent procurement of ABS-1A and ABS-2 satellites as part of its fleet’s expansion,” Pimentel said in a statement.

He said the acquisition ensured the future continuity of Mabuhay Subic Space Center and its growth “as this facility is further expanded to support ABS’ growing satellite operations needs.”

Since then, MSC has successfully positioned itself in the competitive international satellite communications arena by offering video, Internet protocol and telecommunications solutions for clients in Asia and in North America.

Tom Choi, chief executive of ABS, said the purchase was “very strategic” for the company because of the many synergies it created in combining Mabuhay Satellite’s range of applications, operational expertise and business relations with his company’s future growth and long-term objectives.

“ABS will maintain all of Mabuhay’s operations in the Philippines and the staff will be integrated with the ABS team. We feel that this is the perfect complementary marriage of the two companies,” Choi said.

According to PLDT, Asia Broadcast would lease the Mabuhay Satellite facility pending regulatory approval of the sale, with current president and chief executive Gabriel Pimentel operating and managing the business on behalf of the prospective buyer.PLDT did not disclose the purchase price.

PLDT was earlier in talks with two companies engaged in satellite business after it found that its former partner has filed for bankruptcy.

Bermuda-based ProtoStar Ltd. was supposed to provide service for PLDT on five C-band transponders on its ProtoStar 1 satellite from 2011 to 2017. ProtoStar has already received from PLDT some $27.5 million as prio-rity deposit under the agreement.

But news broke out that ProtoStar and its affiliates ProtoStar Satellite Systems Inc., ProtoStar I Ltd., ProtoStar II Ltd., ProtoStar Development Ltd. and ProtoStar Asia Pte. Ltd. each filed for voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code. The cases are pending before the US Bankruptcy Court in the District of Delaware.

Mabuhay Satellite Corporation (MSC), incorporated in November 1994, is the first Philippine company to own and operate a communications satellite.

The Philippines host two orbital satellite slots with the country hosting its first satellite Agila-1 (Palapa B2P) launched in Cape Canaveral Florida, USA on March 20, 1987 but is controlled by Indonesia's Pelumtel until 1996 when it was sold to PLDT for $3 million. It was de-commissioned on December 31, 2007 and replaced with Agila 2 .With the impending sale of Agila-2, the country loses the only satellite it controls. In the meantime, the Agila-3 project is scheduled be launch soon.

Emirates goes double daily to Manila

As more triple seven joins its fleet for Asia-Pacific operations

November 5, 2009

Dubai - Emirates airline is increasing its services to the Asia-Pacific region starting next month with more flights scheduled to Bangkok, Sydney, Jakarta and Manila.

Starting in December, the Dubai-based airline will introduce a fourth daily service to Bangkok, a third daily service to Sydney, double daily to Manila and one additional service to Jakarta. With the latest addition, the airline’s operation in Asia Pacific will increase to 187 flights per week. Its seat load factor will jump by 13 per cent to the region to accommodate the expected rise in demand from said cities to its Dubai hub.

“Asian markets are rebounding with reports of resurgent traffic at key airports in the region. We are confident of seeing a recovery soon and are introducing additional capacity to serve the increasing demand.” says Richard Jewsbury, senior vice president, Commercial Operations Far East and Australasia. The airline also said that almost 30% of its revenue came from the Asia-Pacific region.

According to Jewsbury, the rise in capacity is the result of their taking delivery of new aircraft that were originally meant to keep up with market demand calculated prior to the global economic slump. For example, the latest Boeing 777-300ER scheduled for delivery this month is a bi-class seat configured plane primarily geared to serve the Philippine and Indonesian market where it will have a regular rotation with two flights to Manila and a flight to Jakarta every week.

Emirates airlines operates tri-class service (12 First, 42 Business and 310 Economy Class seats) to Bangkok and Sydney while it operates bi-class service (42 Business and 400 Economy Class seats with 16.7 tonnes of cargo capacity) to Manila and Jakarta using Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

The airline also intends to upgrade its Asia-Pacific destinations with A380 service in the next two years starting with Bangkok and Manila where it has registered impressive growth as compared to other destinations in the region despite the global downturn. It will also open new routes in Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand soon as new aircraft are gradually being added to its fleet.

It already received 20 new aircraft as part of the 161 aircraft orders worth approximately $52 billion dollars and is still pursuing an aggressive purchase plan despite the bleak traffic forecast by IATA.

"Emirates airlines has 53 A380 aircraft on firm order, with two of these due for delivery in December 2009. Emirates currently has five A380s in its fleet and we will receive a further 15 up till the end of November 2010. We expect to be its largest operator of the type by that time. We remain in close discussions with Airbus in relation to our order," said Tim Clark, Emirates Airlines President.

International Air Transport Association data show that revenues in the Middle East grew by 18.2 per cent in September compared to the same month last year, and the Asia-Pacific region grew 2.1 per cent.