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PAL axes India route
Rosa Ocampo and Marianne Carandang, Meeting & Incentive Forums Asia, Manila, June 3, 2013

PHILIPPINE Airlines (PAL) will cancel its thrice-weekly Manila-Delhi service via Bangkok on June 15, but travel consultants do not expect any negative impact on the growing traffic between the two countries.


A PAL source who sought anonymity confirmed the “indefinite suspension” of the flight. While the Manila-Bangkok leg of the flight will be retained, the Bangkok-New Delhi leg would be dropped for commercial reasons.


Meanwhile, an India-based travel consultant confirmed that PAL will close its Delhi office next month. “(PAL) is not making money on the (Manila-Bangkok-Delhi) services. New flights should be marketed but PAL wasn’t doing enough of that.”


Glen Augustin, Team India head, market development group, Department of Tourism (DoT), said the cancellation would affect the NTO’s plans to facilitate a 300-pax Outbound Tour Operators Association of India convention in Manila this September.


However, Philippine travel consultants were less negative. “I don’t think (the consequences of cancelling Delhi flights) will really be negative. For one thing, PAL’s rates are high. The market is price-driven yet the airfare is high,” pointed out Kristine Shroff, marketing director, Shroff International Travel Care.


Travel consultants said airlines such as Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific would likely fill the vacuum left by PAL as they already offer better connections on the route. Cebu Pacific in March applied with the Philippine Civil Aeronautics Board to be recognised as the official carrier to India.


However, DoT’s marketing office in India noted that other carriers operating India-Philippine routes had raised prices after news of PAL’s move broke.


Shroff said tourist traffic between India and the Philippines had been “good” during the last three years due to greater awareness in India about the Philippines through DoT’s promotional efforts.


“The market is ready and matured enough to consider the Philippines,” she added.


DoT statistics show that arrivals from India grew 22 per cent in 1Q2013 to 13,510, from 11,065 during the same period in 2012.

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