Mactan–Cebu International Airport: Qatar Airways!

Qatar Mactan-Cebu

Mactan–Cebu International Airport is really on the go! CAPA reports: Qatar Airways to continue Southeast Asia expansion with new nonstop routes to Cebu and Hanoi.

Qatar Airways CEO, Akbar Al Baker, told CAPA at the 17-Feb-2016 Singapore Airshow that the airline plans to launch daily service to Cebu by the end of 2016, initially using 787-8s. Our thanks go to our reader Chris who sent us the information.

Southeast Asia is an interesting and developing market for airlines. Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air are closely watching the Gulf-State destinations. Currently three airlines share the market: Emirates, Qatar and Etihad.

Emirates - Qatar - Etihad

Emirates plans to serve Cebu and Clark with a daily 777-300ER flight on a Dubai-Cebu-Clark-Dubai circle routing. Mr Akbar said that Qatar plans to maintain its daily Doha-Clark return service as it launches Dubai-Cebu.

As a result, Qatar plans to operate 28 weekly flights to the Philippines by the end of 2016 compared with only 14 in Sep-2015. As CAPA has previously highlighted, Emirates is expanding its Philippine operation from 14 to 25 weekly flights in late Mar-2016, giving it 21,400 weekly seats in the Philippine market.

Additionally, Etihad is expanding its Philippine operation from 14 to 17 weekly flights from May-2016, giving it 14,008 weekly seats. Etihad is adding three weekly 777-300ER frequencies to Manila for a total of 17 while Emirates is adding four 777-300ER frequencies to Manila for a total of 18, in addition to launching service to Cebu and Clark.

Qatar currently has two daily 777-300ER flights to Manila and serves Clark with one daily A330-200s frequency. Once Qatar launches the planned daily 787-8 flight to Cebu it will have approximately 18,000 weekly seats in the Philippines, making it the third largest foreign airline in the Philippines after Cathay Pacific and Emirates. Qatar is currently the fourth largest foreign airline in the Philippines, but will slip to the fifth position after Emirates expands from 14 to 25 weekly flights.

Qatar will resume service to Mactan-Cebu

Qatar dropped Cebu, which also enjoys an open skies regime, in Mar-2012. Qatar initially launched services to Cebu in late 2003 as a tag with Singapore, and prior to its suspension the city was served daily with A330-200s.

Doha-Cebu was unprofitable with the A330-200 because of the relatively low yields in the Cebu market but Qatar is confident that the route can be viable with more efficient new-generation aircraft. Mr Akbar said Doha-Cebu will operate initially with the 787-8 and eventually be transitioned to the A350 as more A350s are delivered. A launch date has not yet been set as it hinges on aircraft delivery schedules, but Qatar expects to commence the new Cebu service in 2016.

Doha will be Cebu’s third long haul destination after Los Angeles and Dubai, both of which are being launched in March 2016. The three new long haul routes as well as new regional routes should drive continued rapid traffic growth at Mactan-Cebu International airport. Mactan-Cebu recorded 20% international passenger traffic growth in 2015, to 2 million passengers.

Mactan-Cebu Air Traffic

Mactan-Cebu has emerged as an alternative hub to Manila, where congestion limits growth opportunities for Cebu Pacific, PAL and foreign airlines. The Cebu Pacific Group is planning to continue expanding its Cebu hub, where it now has more than 20 domestic routes and five regional international routes. The PAL Group currently operates seven domestic routes from Cebu and is now evaluating other potential international routes from Cebu, to supplement its new Los Angeles service and its three existing international routes linking Cebu to North Asia.

[Editor’s comment:] We can feel it – Mactan Cebu is really developing. There is still a lot of improvement to do, but we trust in the Indians. But there is a big other question. One can travel very long distances without encountering any problem. But when it comes to local transportation the struggle begins. Why are Philippine city counsels not able to create reliable local transportation?  This is the “No fun factor in the Philippines”. About 100 Million “Pinoys” are wondering if they can change something in May 2016.


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