Expect a air travel boom in the Philippines within the next 15 years as Asia-Pacific is bound to take a bigger market share in the global commercial aviation industry. Presently, Asia Pacific carriers hold 32% of the global passenger traffic. In terms of manpower, Asia Pacific carriers will need 244,000 pilots with 49,000 coming from South East Asian Airlines. For cabin crew, 323,000 will be needed for AP carriers, 77,000 coming from SEA airlines.
In the Philippines alone, local airlines are all expecting new aircraft deliveries. A total of more than 80 aircraft as of this writing are expected to be arriving in the country from now until 2025, most of them coming from low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific.
Presently, Cebu Pacific is expecting delivery of 62 new aircraft which include Airbus A330-900NEO, A321XLR, A321NEO, and A320NEO. Though all their present A330-300 and A320s will be replaced by the NEOs these new aircraft for delivery will be carrying more passengers than the present fleet, hence, additional capacity for the airline. Philippine Airlines is also receiving 14 more A321NEO, set to be replace their present A320 aircraft. PAL is also looking into adding new routes from Manila to the United States while the airline is also considering the Airbus A350-1000 and Boeing 777-9X as replacements of its present 777-300ERs whose lease are bound to expire. Philippines AirAsia has announced a fleet expansion from 24 aircraft to 50. On the horizon are A321NEOs which AirAsia Berhad ordered. Skyjet Airways have also announced a fleet expansion right after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed a law that will allow Skyjet to fly commercial flights.
Philippine-based low cost carriers will be a huge driving force of this growth in the local air travel scene. Today, local airlines have opened different hubs around the country which will allow interisland flights and we expect this to grow further as Asia tourism grows in significant numbers. Presently, LCCs like Cebu Pacific and Philippines AirAsia account for 70% of the domestic market share, a clear sign that Philippine domestic travel is ruled by those who prefer a no-frills and affordable way of flying. We would not consider PAL Express an LCC as they basically operate as a full-service carrier carrying the Philippine Airlines brand.
Another factor that brings by the growth of Philippine air travel is the South East Asia - China market. We all know that Chinese visitors to the Philippines and around the world has been rapidly increasing brought by a surge of Chinese tourism and the Philippine Offshare Gaming Operators (POGO) which employ China nationals. Cebu Pacific with its new aircraft is looking at mounting more China flights from all its hubs around the Philippines which are Manila, Clark, and Cebu. Royal Air, a new entry in the Philippine aviation industry is now operating China flights via Jeiyang and Wuxi. Philippines AirAsia now flies to five Chinese destinations, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Kunming, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. The Philippine - China flights will be dominated by the low-cost carriers, particularly to those destinations within the Chinese mainland aside from Beijing and Shanghai.
Another sign is the expansion of airports. Once the New Manila International Airport in Bulacan opens under the help of San Miguel Corporation, Manila will join other cities that have dual international airports like London (Heathrow and Gatwick), Beijing (Beijing Capital and Daxing), and Tokyo (Narita and Haneda). Both NAIA and the NMIA will be operating together that would help increase the capacity for Manila. Clark International Airport terminal 2 is also set to open which has a capacity of up to more than 8 million which will serve Central to North Luzon. Mactan City International Airport terminal 2 has also opened with terminal 1 being newly renovated. More airports around the country are up for expansion while more new airports are being built such as the Bohol Panglao International Airport which can accomodate larger jets like the A321CEO and NEO.
As Philippine commercial aviation is set to expand due to higher demand of domestic and international air travel, we do see more aircraft orders, lower air fares as competition between local LCCs become more stiff, change in business models and group structures like going for a dual-brand or single-brand, and more dense aircraft configurations. Leg room? Forget it.
As for all our air travellers, we expect more people to fly brought by increased capacity from our airlines, lower fares due to competition, more flight options, and better airports. At the same time, expect less legroom and do not complain if a sandwich on board will cost you a hundred bucks or more.
Philippine based low cost carriers are set to dominate domestic travel as Philippine air travel is seen to increase. Presently, both Cebu Pacific and Philippines AirAsia already have the upper hand but let us see what PAL Express has in store in the future.