MANILA, January 6, 2011 (AFP) – Millions more people in the Philippines are taking to the air, helped by dirt-cheap plane fares, aviation authorities said Thursday.
Carriers flew 22.82 million people to and from Philippine airports in the first nine months of last year, up 12.75 percent from a year earlier, Civil Aeronautics Board data show.
Cheap and infamously unsafe ferries have long been the main form of long-distance travel for people in the impoverished Southeast Asian archipelago of more than 7,100 islands.
However the emergence of budget air carriers such as Cebu Pacific and Zest Air in recent years has seen them offer short-haul fares for about the same price as ferry rides to places that would take at least two days to sail to.
No-frills airlines have also forced flag-carrier Philippine Airlines to offer matching fares on many of its domestic routes.
“That could be one of the reasons, yes,” Grace Placido, a staff member with the Civil Aeronautics Board research unit, told AFP when asked if the rise of low-cost carriers was a factor driving passenger air traffic.
Domestic traffic rose by 10.64 percent to 12.67 million in the first nine months of last year, while international traffic rose by 15.3 percent to 10.55 million, Placido said.
However government figures show ferry services remain the dominant mode of moving people between the major islands of the Philippines.
The Philippine Port Authority said ships carried 43.87 million people across the country’s waters in 2009, its latest data available.
Hundreds of ferry passengers are killed every year due to shipping accidents, especially during the typhoon season.