Cebu Pacific is calling for an open skies agreement between the Philippines and Japan, and hopes that this can be secured at the countries' next round of air consultation talks next month.
The low-cost carrier believes that the agreement would allow it to immediately expand its Japan operations. Cebu now operates thrice weekly Manila-Osaka Kansai services.
It also recognises the Philippine government's efforts to raise capacity at Manila's Ninoy Aquino International airport (NAIA). It says that even if spare capacity at NAIA became available, the country's carriers would be unable to use them due to the lack of seat entitlements.
"Cebu Pacific plans to aggressively expand into Japan in the future. We fully support the [country's civil aeronautics board] in its efforts to further boost tourism and the Philippine aviation industry," says its vice-president for marketing and distribution Candice Iyog. "An open skies agreement with Japan will benefit local tourism and trade, especially since we believe Japan can rival South Korea when it comes to foreign tourist arrivals."
The airline adds that from 2006 to 2011, there was a compounded decline of 2% in arrival numbers from Japan. It attributes this to the lack of additional seat entitlements. Tourist arrivals from countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), meanwhile, grew by double digits.