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Lack of Passengers Force PAL Express to Suspend Flights - CT

The budget airline PAL Express unexpectedly suspended its flights along the Manila-Virac-Manila route last week reportedly due to declining passengers.

PAL Express’ Q400 aircraft took off on its last outbound flight on Jan. 24, leaving air commuters who have already bought promo tickets for their summer vacation here perplexed and exasperated. A source told the Tribune that the management has yet to decide when the flights would resume. The airline’s pullout leaves Cebu Pacific Airlines and Zest Airlines to fight over PAL Express’ market share in terms of passengers.

Records show that for the 10-month period from March 2009 to December 2009, Cebu Pacific got the lion’s share of 62,521 passengers at 45.5%, with PAL Express at 35.4% and Zest Airlines at 19.2%.

While PAL Express had the second biggest share of passenger traffic, its share actually declined from a high of 50% in May 2009, falling to a low of 18% in September before recovering to 24% in December last year.

Its Load Factor, or the ratio of actual passengers over available seats, also fell from 80% in May 2009 to just 46.2% in December.

PAL Express had an average load Factor of 51.48% for the same 10-month period, compared to Cebu Pacific’s 75.48% and Zest’s 61.38%. It’s Dispatch Reliability, which reflected the actual and projected number of flights, was at an average of 92.64%, lower than Cebu Pacific’s 97.02% and Zest’s 94.84%.

Passengers have also complained about PAL Express’ tendency to cancel flights after several hours of delay even during fine weather, earning its management an official complaint signed by frustrated and angry passengers at one time.

Prior to its flight suspension, PAL Express’ Q400 aircraft offered the most number of seats at 76, with Cebu Pacific’s ATR 72 at 72 seats and Zest’s MA-60 at 56 seats.

Source: Catanduanes Tribune - 03 February 2010

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