MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Airlines (PAL) is reopening its hub in Cebu to house its turbo-prop fleet which is set to be delivered within the next four to six months, the country\'s flag carrier said on Monday.
In a press statement, PAL said it will base its soon-to-be-acquired turbo-propeller fleet mainly in Cebu, in order to better serve the growing intra-regional market in Visayas and Mindanao.
It noted that while some turbo-prop flights will also operate out of Manila, Cebu will be the focal point of turbo-prop operations.
The fleet will consist of three Q300 and six Q400 aircraft manufactured by Bombardier Aerospace of Canada, and carries a list price $150 million. Acquisition cost, however, is usually just a little over half of the quoted price.
PAL operated its Cebu hub for most of its 67-year history, when it was the sole airline mandated to provide air services to far-flung rural communities. As such, turbo-props were an integral part of PAL’s fleet for decades.
When PAL entered receivership in 1999, however, its rehabilitation plan stipulated an all-jet fleet, forcing the airline to dispose of its then turbo-prop type, the Fokker 50, and close its Cebu hub.
With PAL’s successful emergence from rehabilitation late last year, resuming turbo-prop operations became a key priority, in keeping with the national carrier’s historic mandate of serving outlying areas.
In the statement, PAL said its turbo-prop services are scheduled to take off on May 5 with eight flights daily from Manila to Caticlan, gateway to the famed resort island of Boracay. Fifty-seater Bombardier Q300 aircraft will be deployed on the route.
The operation kicks into high gear in the third week of May when services of varying daily frequencies between Cebu and five points – Caticlan, Bacolod, Tacloban, Butuan and General Santos – are launched.
In the same week, a daily flight between Manila and Busuanga in northern Palawan will also commence, along with a ninth daily frequency to Caticlan.
In the last week of May, three more points will be added to the Cebu hub network: Davao, with thrice-daily flights; Iloilo, twice daily; and Puerto Princesa, a single flight everyday.
A slightly larger turbo-prop model, the 76-seater Bombardier Q400, will operate most of the Cebu services.
More destinations in Visayas and Mindanao will be served from Cebu, as well as from Manila, in the coming months as PAL takes delivery of more Q300 and Q400 turbo-props, PAL said. - GMANews.TV