Echoing business sentiments, Singapore Airlines (SIA) adds to the long list of companies who hope for better infrastructure in the Philippines.
As it celebrated its 50th anniversary operating in the Philippines on Wednesday, June 1, SIA Regional Vice President for Southeast Asia Philip Goh said he believes the market will pick up once the infrastructure is in place.
"Better infrastructure will allow us to operate in smaller places... We have been trying to increase our frequency of flights from five to four daily but there aren't any more slots," Goh said in a media roundtable.
SIA operates four flights from Manila to Singapore daily, acquiring "a third" of the market share in the route. Silk Air, SIA's sister airline also flies to Cebu, Davao, and Caticlan. Earlier this year, the airlines also announced the purchase of 67 Airbus A350 XWB aircraft, in a bid to upgrade its long-haul flight service and selected regional routes.
The aviation executive said they have also previously discussed their concerns with outgoing Transportation Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya. However, they understand the problem is not an easy thing to solve. “Even in major cities abroad, the needed infrastructure cannot cope with market demand," Goh added.
"The economic growth in the Philippines in the last few years is strong. There's a lot of business interest and equally, more people are discovering the country's best kept secrets in the tourism sector," Goh said.
The airline reported an SGD 804 million ($583.90 or P27.22 billion) profit for 2015 to 2016 up 118.5% from the previous year, with faster passenger load at 79.6%. SIA General Manager Carol Ong said the Manila to Singapore route in particular "is always full,” with a year-on-year growth.
Ong said the Philippines and Vietnam are two key markets in Asia which are seen to have strong economic growth forecast thus the airlines’ robust efforts in the area.
Singapore Airlines’ airport lounge in Manila was the first to be upgraded with a $100 million investment this year.
It has also introduced a new cabin class, the Premium Economy, in August of 2015, however, it has been met with lukewarm response from the Asian market.
“I believe the numbers in this class can still be improved especially in Asia as most are unfamiliar of the product. However, this has also become an effort in educating the market as an additional ‘in-between’ option for travelers who seek something a little bit more from Economy but not much going Business Class,” Ong said.
The SIA Group comprised of budget airlines Tiger Air and Scoot with Silk Air collectively serves 122 destinations worldwide. Singapore Airlines has also added four more destinations to be launched this year, namely Dusseldorf in Germany, Wellington and Canberra in Australia, and Laos. It also plans to start flying in South Africa in the future.
Elyssa Christine Lopez is Entrepreneur.com.ph's editorial assistant/staff writer. Follow her on Twitter @elyssalopz.
Photo from Airbus