Tuesday, August 21, 2012

South East Asian Airlines (SEAIR) founders form new airline for 'missionary' routes

The former president of South East Asian Airlines (Seair), Avelino Zapanta, will head Seair International (Seair I), a new company created to serve missionary routes.

“Mr. Zapanta will head Seair I. He will be the president of Seair I. We believe he could continue to head an airline such as Seair I since he had been with Seair Inc. before,” Greek-American Nikos Gitsis, one of the founders of Seair Inc., said in an interview.

Gitsis and Iren Dornier sold a combined 40-percent stake in Seair Inc. to Singapore’s budget carrier Tiger Airways for $2.5 million.

“We started a new airline called Seair International which is owned by me, Dornier, Tomas Lopez and  Geraldine Olivares. We will reposition the airline to serve missionary developmental routes and one of the things we want to do is to relaunch the Batanes flight because we removed that from Seair Inc.,” said Gitsis.

Seair I will take over the leisure routes of Seair Inc. which has now been transformed as a budget carrier. It will fly to destinations where bigger commercial planes could not land using its existing fleet of three Dornier 328s and one LET 410UVP-Es.

Gitsis said Seair I will purchase two more LET 410s next year to be able to serve more flights going to Batanes and Palawan.

“We plan to expand the fleet and position the aircraft to service missionary destinations like inter-Palawan, including Puerto Princesa-El Nido, Busuanga, Puerto Princesa-Taytay, Puerto Princesa-Cuyo, among others.  We will keep Batanes and also focus on Palawan,” added Gitsis.

Seair I is waiting for the issuance of an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) before the relaunch targeted in the last quarter of this year.

“We already secured a CPCN [certificate of public convenience and necessity] from the CAB [Civil Aeronautics Board] and we are just waiting for the CAAP to issue our AOC. We will start operating Seair I by October or November this year. We have pilots and staff good and ready to go. Mr. Zapanta will come back,” said Gitsis.

Zapanta, a former president of Philippine Airlines, was replaced by Patrick Tan as Seair Inc.’s president.

Earlier, Tan said Seair Inc. will add more flights out of Davao and even include international destinations such as Davao to Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The budget airline currently operates a fleet composed of three Airbus A320s and two A319s.

Tan said two more Airbus airplanes will be purchased this year through a lease a payment. “We are looking at acquiring two aircraft every year and the target is to have 10 within three years or less.”

Seair Inc. now flies to Bacolod, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa, Tacloban, Batanes, and Kalibo, while its international routes are to Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, and Kota Kinabalu, and flying out of Clark. It has been expanding its network domestically and internationally.  “We are looking at flying to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and some points in China among others,” he said.

Source:   http://businessmirror.com.ph

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