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Tue 31 Jan 2012 01:22 PM

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Cebu Air plans long-haul flights, targets overseas Filipinos

Philippines’ largest no-frills airline eyeing flights to the Middle East, US and Europe

Cebu Air plans long-haul flights, targets overseas Filipinos
Cebu Air is the Philippines’ largest budget carrier [Getty Images]

Cebu Air, the Philippines’ largest budget carrier, plans to
start flights to the US, Middle East, Australia and Europe in 2013 to tap
demand from Filipinos living outside the country.

The airline, which operates as Cebu Pacific, intends to lease
as many as eight Airbus A330-300 aircraft, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

Fares will be 35 percent less than full-price competitors,
it said.

Cebu Air will target the more than 8.5 million Filipinos
leaving overseas as it challenges Philippine Airlines, the nation’s largest
long-haul carrier. AirAsia X and Jetstar also operate budget long-haul flights
from Asia as rising wages spur travel.

The Cebu City, the Philippines-based airline intends to
offer direct flights to the country to draw passengers away from services
requiring multiple stops, said President Lance Gokongwei.

Cebu has slumped 32 percent in the past year in Manila
trading, compared with a 39 percent gain for PAL Holdings, the parent of
Philippines Air. Cebu Air closed little changed at 67.10 pesos today.

The carrier, which currently operates only short-haul
services, expects to fly 14 million passengers this year compared with almost
12 million in 2011.

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