As backpackers and budget travelers, majority if not all of our flights, both local and abroad, are made possible by discounted airfares thanks to stiff competition in the aviation industry and the advent of low-cost carriers. In the Philippines, we usually refer to them as #SeatSale or #PisoSale and we can attest that these seat sales and super-low promos of budget airlines are Genuine and Legit. It takes skills, patience and of course, some budget to be able to avail the lowest possible fares. But before even going to the booking process, it is better to be familiarized with Budget or Low-Cost Airlines and Carriers currently operating in Philippines. Here’s our quick guide of budget/low-cost airlines and flights operating from the Philippines:
Cebu Pacific Air is now the undisputed leader in Philippine aviation in terms of number of passengers, flights and perhaps fleet size thanks to its revolutionary and dramatic turn as a low-cost model. Cebu Pacific flies to almost all major domestic regional and provincial centers and island destinations, as well as to Southeast Asia, Middle East, the Pacific and Australia, and recently, the US (Hawaii). Manila, Cebu and Kalibo are its main hubs. Booking is available via their tickets offices, official website, mobile app, and third-party travel agencies, while payment can be conveniently made through credit card, ATMs, online payment services and over the counter payments centers (Banks, SM, Robinsons, 7-11, Cebuana, LBC, etc.).
- Year-round low/budget fares (vis-a-vis full service airlines)
- Periodic piso-sale called #CEBSeatSale and random flash day-time sale. Watch out for piso seat sales during significant dates such as national holidays or observance (Christmas Sale, Valentines, Independence Day, Summer) or their company celebrations (Anniversary Sale).
- Sign up for their loyalty program called GetGo and earn points for every transaction which can be used to redeem flights later on. GetGo also holds promos and exclusive sales and offers discounts with partner merchants. GetGo registration kiosks can be found at the NAIA Terminal 3 departure area.
Air Asia (Z2)
Officially called Philippines Air Asia, this is the newest low-cost carrier based in the Philippines. It is an affiliate of the Kuala Lumpur-based AirAsia. Since it commenced operations in 2012, Air Asia now operates in 20 destinations across the country, and its international roster includes ASEAN and mainland Asia (Seoul, Busan, Macau, Hongkong, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Taipei). Air Asia domestic flights depart/arrive at NAIA Terminal 4 while its international flights are at NAIA Terminal 3.
- Year-round low/budget fares
- Periodic sale called #RedHotSale and random flash day-time sale. Watch out for piso sale during significant dates such as national holidays or observance (Christmas Sale, Valentines, Independence Day, Summer) or their company celebrations (Anniversary Sale).
- Sign up for their loyalty program called Air Asia BIG and earn points for every transaction which can be used to redeem flights later on. Air Asia BIG also holds promos and exclusive sales and offer discounts with partner merchants.
- Air Asia also offers the one of a kind inter-ASEAN flight travel pass called the ASEAN Pass which enables a passenger to avail or redeem flights to/from countries within ASEAN using credits at fixed price. You can also save on processing fees and you can still earn the BIG points. For more information, visit Air Asia ASEAN Pass.
Jetstar Airways (GK)
At first, we thought Jetstar was a high-end airline since it operates mainly from Singapore, Japan and Australia. We followed them on Facebook and realized that they actually offer some of the cheapest year-round fares going to and from these destinations. Although they maintain a limited route, they still offer some of the most competitive fares particularly going to and from Japan. Jetstar departs and arrives at NAIA Terminal 1. Recently, it offered direct flights from Clark to Osaka.
- Year-round low/budget fares to Singapore and Japan (Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo-Narita)
- Periodic sale and regular/weekly sale called FRIDAY FRENZY. Follow their Facebook for latest updates. Watch out for sale during significant dates such as national holidays or observance (Christmas Sale, Valentines, Independence Day, Summer) or their company celebrations (Anniversary Sale).
- So far, Jetstar has no in-house loyalty or miles program but they have affiliate loyalty programs in partnership with other airlines. Check-out their website for details.
Scoot is a Singapore-based low-cost airline operated by Singapore Airlines and sister company of Silk Air. The carrier operates medium to long haul flights mainly to China, Australia and, most recently, Athens. Last year, Scoot announced a merger with TigerAir Singapore and will take over the flights of the latter starting July 25 effectively expanding its fleet and routes. It flies daily from Manila and from Cebu, Clark and Kalibo except on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
- Year-round low/budget fares to Singapore from Manila, Cebu, Clark and Kalibo.
- Periodic sale and regular sale through. Follow their Facebook for latest updates.
- Longing for that elusive Greek holiday? Then Scoot is the answer with the latest opening of their flights to Athens from Changi Airport.
SilkAir is a regional airline based in Singapore and a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines and sister airline of Scoot. It flies to over 50 cities in 16 countries in India, China, Australia, and Southeast Asia, including flights to the Philippines. It operates the Davao and Cebu-Singapore route for quite some time now.
- Year-round low/budget fares to Singapore from Manila, Cebu, Clark and Kalibo.
- Periodic sale and regular sale. Follow their Facebook for latest updates.
- Sign up for their KrisFlyer program and earn benefits for frequent transactions.
Cebu-Singapore-Cebu (via Davao) | Davao-Singapore-Davao (via Cebu) | Kalibo-Singapore-Kalibo
Jin Air (LJ)
Jin Air is a low-cost Korean airline operating from Seoul that. It started flights in 2008 within Korea before embarking to international destinations, now numbering at 22. Jin Air is the low-cost arm of the country’s flag carrier, Korean Air. This little-known operator that commenced flights from Clark International Airport last 2015 with daily flights to Seoul (Incheon) and Busan has now extended operations to and from Mactan-Cebu to Seoul and Busan, respectively. Online bookings are available for credit card payments while for cash payments, booking is available at their offices at Clark and Cebu Airports.
Clark-Seoul-Clark | Cebu-Seoul-Cebu | Clark-Busan-Clark | Cebu-Busan-Cebu
Vanilla Air (JW)
This another young airline is a low-cost subsidiary of All-Nippon Airways (ANA) based in Narita Airport, Tokyo after taking over the operations from Air Asia Japan. It started operations in the Philippines on Christmas Day 2016 by mounting daily flights to/from Mactan Cebu International Airport and Tokyo (Narita Airport). This new route opens more options for travelers from the Visayas and Mindanao areas.
- Year-round low/budget fares to Tokyo-Narita from Mactan-Cebu.
- Follow their Facebook for latest updates on periodic sale and regular/weekly sale .
Jeju Air (7C)
Jeju Air is Korea’s first and pioneering low-cost airlines founded and based in Jeju Island. Being Korea’s top tourist hub, Jeju Air service some 30 destinations across the Asia-Pacific region.
- Year-round low/budget fares to Busan and Incheon from Cebu and Manila.
- Periodic sale and regular/weekly sale online and mobile.
- Sign-up with their frequent flyer program called Refresh Points. Check-out their website for details.
Manila-Incheon-Manila- DAILY | Cebu-Incheon-Manila – 2x DAILY
Air Busan (BX)
Air Busan is a Busan-based low-cost Korean airlines under the management of Asiana Airlines and commenced operations in 2008. Due to high demand of passengers and tourists to Cebu, the airline started to mount a Cebu-Busan and vice versa flights daily. It has Fly & Fun program that allows ticket-holders/members to avail of discounts and promos with various partners merchants.
Other airlines and flight routes:
Lucky Air (Yunnan Province, PROC)
Flights: Manila-Kunming -Manila | Cebu-Kunming-Manila
Xiamen Air (Xiamen, PROC)
Flights: Manila-Xiamen | Manila-Cebu | Manila-Kalibo – DAILY
Other New and Not-So-Known Airlines
Given the significant increase of airline passengers and low-cost flights, more airlines have made their way to the Philippines or have embarked on new operations to cater to the potential market of Philippine-base travelers. New and some not-so-known local and foreign carriers are operating on some international flight routes as follows:
- Pan-Pacific Airlines. This Filipino-Korean airline joint is a full service carrier that started in 2017 and offers scheduled daily flights to/from Cebu and Kalibo to Incheon (Seoul) and Kalibo to/fro Busan (Pusan) every M-W-F-Sat.
- Cathay Dragon (KA). This Hongkong-based
Image Credits: Facebook Pages of Cebu Pacific, Air Asia, Scoot Air, JetStar, SilkAir, Vanilla Air, Jin Air, Jeju Air, Air Busan, Luck Air & Xiamen Air. [TBC]