Cebu Pacific, the country’s largest budget airline, is set to pen flights to Hawaii and Guam by the end of this year.
“Hopefully, before the end of the year we can secure necessary slots,” said Cebu Pacific Air President Lance Y. Gokongwei; explaining that the airline is already in the process of seeking regulatory clearance for the new long-haul flight routes.
At present, Cebu Pacific offers long-haul international flights to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Doha in Qatar, Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, and Sydney in Australia. In total, the airline currently flies to 34 destinations within the Philippines, and 24 international destinations in 14 countries, mostly in the Asian region.
If the plan succeeds, their flights to Hawaii and Guam will be the airline’s first venture into the United States.
“While the [US Federal Aviation Authority] lifted Philippines from Category 2 (no new flights or new services) to Category 1 (meets international safety regulations), that only removed one regulatory hurdle. We have the economic permit (from US Department of Transportation). We would need an operating permit from FAA and several other approvals from other US agencies,” explained Cebu Pacific Air General Manager for Long-Haul Division Jose Alejandro B. Reyes in an e-mail interview with Business World earlier this year.
At the moment, Cebu Pacific’s rival Philippine Airlines is the only flag carrier that flies to the United States to destinations such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu and Guam, and most recently, New York City.
In addition, the airline could also need to make possible additions to its fleet which is currently of 54 aircraft that include 10 Airbus A319, 31 Airbus A320, five Airbus A330 and eight ATR 72-500.
Talk of other possible international routes also persist with Cebu Pacific believed to possibly expand to European destinations and New Zealand.