Cebu Pacific Air Begins Flights To Virac

Air commuters from this island are sure to profit in terms of better service as Cebu Pacific Airlines starts its long-awaited flights to and from Virac starting this February 14.

Cebu Pacific management announced the welcome development last Jan. 8, with its newly-acquired sixth ATR 72-500 turbo-prop aircraft to fly to the capital town every Tuesday, Thursday. Saturday and Sunday.

Flight time is approximately one hour and 10 minutes, with the plane leaving Manila’s NAIA-3 terminal at 9:30 A.M. and arriving at Virac at 10:40 A.M. The 72-seater, twin-engined aircraft departs Virac at 11 A.M. and arrives at Manila at 12:10 P.M. Regular fare for a one-way flight is P1,239.

To drum up its expansion of the Manila hub, Cebu Pacific Air has offered a promotional P500 "all-in" Go-Lite seat sale for the new flight from January 9 to 14, good for travel from February 14 to March 31, 2009. For those with check-in baggage, the promo fare will run up to about P625 per.

A short-haul regional airliner built in France and Italy by Avions de Transport Regional (ATR) since 1986, more than 400 ATR-72s have been delivered worldwide. With similar length and wingspan of 27 meters, the plane is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada 6-blade engines at 2,475 hp each. It has a cruise speed of 511 kilometers per hour, range of 1,650 kilometers and a service ceiling of 7,600 meters (24,900 feet).

Passengers are boarded using the rear door (which is rare for a passenger plane) as the front door is used to load cargo. A tail stand must be installed when passengers are boarding or disembarking to prevent to prevent the nose from coming off the ground.

Among the recent incidents involving an ATR 72-500 included a Cebu Pacific flight to Caticlan which made an emergency landing at NAIA at 7:21 A.M. of Jan. 7 after the pilot reported a problem in the right engine when alarm lights in the instrument panel started blinking. All 53 passengers and crew were evacuated safely in what was described as a "mild" incident.

On August 24, 2008, an Air Dolomiti ATR 72 en route from Munich, Germany to Bologna, Italy abandoned take-off after the pilot announced a smoke alarm. An amateur video filmed by a bystander showed 60 passengers fleeing the burning plane before the fire was extinguished.

Last December 26, 2008, a Mount Cook Airlines ATR 72-500 from Wellington to Christchurch, New Zealand, lost power in its right engine one minute after takeoff. A passenger reported seeing something hit the engine and smoke from the engine filled the cabin through the air conditioning system. The pilots reportedly saw a warning indicator light and shut down one engine.

source: Catanduanes Tribune - 15 January 2009