The rise of boutique airlines in the Philippines

The Philippine commercial aviation industry is a very competitive one. Philippine Airlines, though being the only full service airline in the Philippines, would be very hard to compete with due to the airline's network, established brand, and product. For the low cost or budget airline category, a number of airlines do service this market namely Cebu Pacific, PAL Express, Philippines Air Asia, Pan Pacific, and Royal Air.
Credits on photo
Due to the stiff competition in both the full service and budget airline categories, the rise of "boutique airlines" in the Philippines come forth. These are Skyjet and AirSwift.

So what is a boutique airline and how is it different from a full service and budget airline?

Google defines Boutique as meaning “a business or establishment that is small and sophisticated or fashionable”. Though this definition don't best describe an airline, some are already adjusting their business models in order to be considered "boutique"

Both Skyjet and AirSwift are relatively small airlines with a fleet size of not more than 5 aircraft. They usually serve the small islands in the Philippines, usually those with airports that cannot accommodate the bigger Airbus jets.

With 7,100 islands, the Philippines is indeed perfect for boutique airlines especially for islands with airports of short runways. These airlines operate turboprops or STOL (Short Take-Off and Landing) aircraft.

As for ticket prices, they are higher than budget carriers and even at times full service airlines due to the limited capacity each aircraft can carry. Example, a BAe-146-200 can only carry less than 100 passengers.

We now take a look at the Philippines's two boutique airlines, Skyjet and AirSwift.
Credits: Skyjet  Airlines
SkyJet Airlines

​Skyjet is Manila's first boutique airline operated by Magnum Air Inc. which commenced flights December 14, 2012. Their very first service was a flight from Manila to Basco, Batanes. Utilizing the British-made BAe-146-100, they were the first airline to offer jet-engine aircraft services to Batanes. Presently, Skyjet operates a fleet of two BAe 146-100 and two BAe 146-200. They fly from Manila to small islands around the country like Basco, Camiguin, Busuanga (Coron), and San Vicente. Skyjet operates from Manila.
Credits: Planespotters
Air Swift

AirSwift in a boutique airline owned by Ayala Corporation based in Manila with a secondary hub in El Nido, Palawan. They were formerly known as Island Transvoyager when they commenced services in 2002 using three Dornair 228 turboprops. They were acquired by Ayala Corporation in 2012 and rebranded as AirSwift in 2015. AirSwift operates a fleet of 4 aircraft consisting of two ATR 72-600 and two ATR 42-600. They fly from Manila to El Nido in which they also own the airport, Basco, Busuanga (Coron), Caticlan, and Sicogon. AirSwift also serves major airports like Cebu, Davao, Clark, Bohol (Panglao), and Puerto Princesa.

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