Philippines is first in Asia to secure World Bank loan for disaster risk mgt.

WB logoThe Philippines is the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to secure a US$500 million loan from the World Bank to strengthen its disaster risk reduction and investment planning as well as help manage the financial impact when disasters strike.

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima says the policy loan would give the Philippines the flexibility to use the funds as needed. The fund would be drawn in three years and renewable up to four times within 15 years.

Secretary Purisima noted that the Philippines is among the most vulnerable countries in the world. Together, the 20 most vulnerable countries face escalating losses of US$44.9 billion due to climate-related natural disasters alone. Inaction is set to cost us even more.

“With the number set to multiply almost ten-fold by 2030, amounting to $418 billion, we turn to innovative financing mechanisms to boost our resilience,” says Purisima.

 

On average, more than 1,000 lives are lost every year in the Philippines, with typhoons accounting for 74 percent of the fatalities, 62 percent of the total damages, and 70 percent of agricultural damages. Also, the country is highly exposed to geologic hazards including earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

In 2013, Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) devastated the country causing over 6,000 fatalities and thousands more missing, and creating extensive damage to properties, infrastructure, businesses, and livelihoods.

Total damage and losses reached US$12.9 billion (P571.1 billion), cutting economic growth by about 0.9 % in 2013, and another 0.3 % in 2014. As a result, about 2.3 million people fell below the poverty line.

“Financial shocks caused by natural disasters undermine economic growth and poverty reduction. This is the environmental equivalent of the middle income trap. Governments need to be agile in mobilizing resources if we are to break free from disaster-traps that knock back the poorest and most vulnerable,” says Purisima.

The Department of Finance (DOF) developed the Disaster Risk Financing and Insurance Strategy in 2015 to ensure financial resilience at the national, local, and individual levels.

At the national level, the government will combine different financial instruments to protect the country against major events, including reserves such as the national and local disaster risk reduction fund, and contingent credit granted by the World Bank.

At the local and individual levels, the DOF is working with the World Bank to set up a sub-national insurance pool to provide local government units with immediate liquidity following disasters and design a property catastrophe risk insurance pool for homeowners and businesses.

The DOF is also collaborating with Department of Social Welfare and Development to set up a system of emergency income support through post-disaster cash transfers utilizing the payment infrastructure of Pantawid Pamilya, the country’s conditional cash transfer program. This will help strengthen post-disaster assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable.

World Bank Philippine country director Motoo Konishi says this new policy loan signifies the World Bank’s recognition of the Philippines’ comprehensive efforts to strengthen the country’s capacity for managing disaster risks.

Following Tropical Storm Ondoy (Ketsana) and Typhoon Pepeng (Parma) in 2009, legislators passed Republic Act 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Act mandating a shift from disaster response to disaster risk reduction and preparedness.

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PAL flies to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

PAL A320

Philippine Airlines (PAL) has started flying to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea as part of its expansion in the Oceania region.

The thrice-weekly service to Port Moresby – every Thursday, Friday, and Sunday – utilizes the 156-seater Airbus 320.

The flight to Port Moresby will provide an easy route for Filipinos living and working in Papua New Guinea to their native home, while also allowing residents of Papua New Guinea to discover and connect to PAL’s 30 domestic and 39 international destinations. Records show that around 30,000 Filipino professionals are based in Papua New Guinea.

The Manila-Port Moresby route of PAL starts at a rate of US$720 for economy class and US$2132 for business class, while the Port Moresby- Manila route starts at PGK1,768 for economy class and PGK8, 678 for business class.

Port Moresby will become PAL’s 39th international destination.

Papua New Guinea is the South Pacific island’s largest city. Jackson International Airport is the largest and busiest airport in Papua New Guinea.

PAL executives, together with officials of the Department of Tourism, led the celebration of the new service during an inaugural reception on December 19 at the Airways Hotel in Port Moresby. They  were joined by Papua New Guinea government officials, travel agents, tour operators, local media and representatives of the Filipino community in Papua New Guinea.

After its successful inaugural in Cairns and Auckland, PAL continues its expansion in the Oceania Region by resuming flights in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. It allows PAL to be of service to the travel needs of tourists and businessmen both from Manila and Papua New Guinea,” said PAL President and COO Jaime J. Bautista.

CAPA sees rapid growth of Mactan-Cebu Int’l Airport

Mactan-Cebu International Airport, the second largest airport in the Philippines is poised for more rapid growth in 2016 as the Philippine Airlines (PAL) continues to pursue as its second hub with more domestic routes and the launch of services to Los Angeles, USA.

The Centre for Aviation (CAPA) says Cebu is has emerged as one of the fastest-growing airports in Southeast Asia with passenger growth of 13% in the first 10 months of 2015. Mactan-Cebu International Airport has been boosted by the relaunch of several domestic routes by PAL as well as international expansion from PAL, Cebu Pacific and foreign carriers.

CAPA says Mactan-Cebu is well positioned for long-term growth as the airport’s new private owners have begun construction of a new terminal, which will increase annual capacity to 12.5 million annual passengers. The new terminal will enable Cebu to build as a hub for transit traffic and to benefit further from infrastructure constraints in Manila which are prompting Philippine carriers to base additional aircraft at secondary cities.

Cebu handled 6.4 million passengers in the first 10 months of 2015, representing 13.4% growth compared with the same period of 2014. Cebu is on pace to end 2015 with nearly 8 million passengers.

Cebu’s prior historical high was 7 million annual passengers, which was achieved in 2013. Cebu saw its traffic drop by 2.2% in 2014, driven by a contraction at PAL as the flag carrier restructured its domestic operations. Growth peaked at 14.8% in 2011, before dropping to 8.9% in 2012Full year growth for 2015 could surpass the 14.8% achieved in 2011, given the surge in recent months. The Oct-2015 result was 17.9% passenger growth, and for the three months of 3Q2015: growth exceeding 20%.

CAPA noted that Cebu Airport’s traffic fluctuates significantly depending on the time of year – as it does throughout the Philippines – with December, January, April and May being the strongest months.

Cebu Pacific opened a base in Cebu about five years ago and has since steadily expanded its Cebu operation. The Cebu Pacific Group currently has about 110,000 weekly seats at Cebu, making its operation slightly less than one third the size of its Manila base. The PAL Group is almost as large as Cebu Pacific in Manila, but even with the growth in 2015 its Cebu base is now less than one fifth the size of its Manila base.

While PAL now has seven domestic routes, the Cebu Pacific Group has 22 domestic routes from Cebu, according to OAG data. Cebu Pacific serves seven of these routes with a mix of turboprops and jets, six with only jets, and nine with only turboprops, the group’s turboprops are operated by regional subsidiary, Cebgo.

Last year, Cebu Pacific has continued to expand on point to point secondary domestic routes from Cebu. While the group’s capacity on Cebu-Manila has remained flat at about 44,000 weekly seats, its capacity on other domestic routes from Cebu has increased over the last year by about 14% to approximately 57,000 weekly seats. While the additional 7,000 domestic seats represent capacity much smaller than the seats that PAL Express has added in Cebu, it is still significant, and has helped drive an overall increase in domestic traffic at Cebu.

 

Cebu Pacific Air flies to Fukuoka, Japan

 

Cebu Pacific

Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) is expanding its network with the addition of Fukuoka, Japan with a thrice weekly service to its fourth destination in Japan. Aside from Fukuoka, CEB operates direct flights from Manila to Osaka, Tokyo (Narita) and Nagoya, and from Cebu to Tokyo (Narita).

Japan is one of CEB’s most popular international destinations from the Philippines. Latest data from the Japan National Tourism Organization show that Filipino tourist arrivals in Japan surged by 44% to more than 211,000 from January to October 2015, compared to the same period last year.

With the launch of the new Manila – Fukuoka route, even more travelers from the Philippines can take advantage of CEB’s trademark lowest fares to visit friends and family, or explore new destinations in Japan. CEB’s current promo fare from Manila to Fukuoka go as low as P6,778 all-in, up to 51% lower than other airlines.

The Manila-Fukuoka service is operated every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, departing Manila at 2:15PM and arriving in Fukuoka at 6:55PM. The return flight departs Fukuoka at 8:00PM and arrives in Manila at 10:40PM. These flights utilize CEB’s brand-new Airbus A320 fleet, with 180 all-economy class seats.

Meanwhile, for the first nine months of this year, Japan ranked 3rd when it comes to the Philippines’ foreign tourist arrival sources. The new direct route opens up the Philippines to more Japanese travelers, who can utilize CEB’s extensive Philippine network to explore various island destinations via Manila.

CEB further contributed to the national tourism agenda, as it launched direct flights between Cebu and Taipei, Taiwan, as well as between Davao and Singapore on December 17, 2015.

“The launches of three international routes from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao underscore Cebu Pacific’s commitment to provide more travel opportunities, and make the Philippines and the world easily accessible to everyJuan,” said CEB VP for Marketing and Distribution Candice Iyog.

CEB’s network now spans 64 destinations on over 98 routes, including flights to Guam, Dubai, Doha, Sydney, Bali, Seoul, and Beijing.

Philippine economy slows down

The Philippine economy has slowed down as the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is likely to grow by 6 percent in 2015 from 6.1 percent in 2014.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) says in 2014, economic growth was predominantly private sector-led, indicating increased economic activity in sectors where there are opportunities for better employment.

Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan says the Philippines has been growing at an average of 5.6 percent for the first nine months of 2015, with 6.0 percent growth in the last quarter due to strong domestic demand, more jobs and more public and private investments.

“This puts the Philippines as one of the fastest-growing major economies in Asia, after India, China and Vietnam. Our year-to-date performance reflects a steadily growing economy, and we are very optimistic that the Philippine economy will grow at 6 percent for full-year 2015,” says Secretary Balisacan.

“We have seen the continued strengthening of the industry and manufacturing sectors. This was evident for eight quarters from the second half of 2012 until 2014, when growth of the industry sector outpaced the growth of the services sector,” says Secretary Balisacan.

“This trend is consistent with our strategy to promote the resurgence of industry and the manufacturing subsector. But the services sector, particularly the IT-Business Process Manangement, also remained robust.  The tourism subsector has also recovered from the Bohol and Cebu earthquakes and Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.”

According to the latest World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report, the Philippines now ranks Number 47, a huge leap from Number 85 back in 2010. “This makes us the most improved economy in the ASEAN region and across the world in terms of competitiveness rankings over the last half-decade,” says Balisacan.