When new airline player Royal Air joined the local industry in late 2018, many were happy to see another participant for air transportation. We’ve heard of AirAsia and Cebu Pacific fight for the position of low-cost airfare, but as a practical traveler myself, I’m quite excited how Royal Air will heat the competition up in the local travel scene.
Not to be labeled as a budget-airline, the young market entrant presents itself as a boutique airline for families, young professionals, and travel enthusiasts.
Last May 20-21, 2019, I was one of the lucky few to get a sneak peek of the royal experience in the sky as Royal Air took another leap in their journey by opening five new routes, linking Cebu to different destinations across the country.
It was an early flight from Terminal 4 of the Manila International Airport. The lines at Royal Air counters were a blockbuster at half-past 2 in the morning. Although a Monday, the energy in the air was high as many were ecstatic to take the first-ever flight of Royal to Cebu from Manila.
A smooth check-in. A smooth boarding experience. A smooth takeoff. A smooth flight. A smooth landing. The airline utilizes a 97-seater British Aerospace (BAe) to get passengers to places. This type of aircraft, not known to many, is also known as “Whisper Jet” because of its four impressively quiet engines.
Behind all the newly launched features, what truly captures my attention was the airline’s topnotch hospitality. You see, I was exceedingly surprised at how pleasant Royal Air’s officer and staff are. These are the people who took the time and effort to ensure that travelers get the best flying experience for local destinations. By joining their inaugural flight via the Cebu hub, I realized that their tagline “warm, passionate, and genuine” isn’t just another tagline thrown in for marketing purposes. They actually live by these three core values.
During the flight, I watched an officer holding a pen and paper, reviewing a document word per word. Just a row away was another officer who, having spent the night in the office to prepare for today’s event, relies on the awakening power of instant coffee to keep her spirits up throughout the day. Their dedication is exceptional but here is the best part: I never caught them wear a frown despite the overwhelming activities. Approach them and they’ll stop whatever they’re doing to accommodate you.
The people working for Royal Air have put the travelers’ best interest at heart. That’s what I can assure you.
Manila to Cebu Flight
The inaugural flight from Manila to Cebu was a treat for passengers. Upon arriving at the Mactan International Airport, we were warmly welcomed by women in colorful cultural attires that speak of Cebu’s must-see festivals, handing over tiny packs of dried mangoes and beaded necklace.
A brief program was held to greet the passengers of the maiden flight of the Manila-Cebu route. Royal Air’s CEO Ed Novillas shared with everyone how Royal Air doesn’t intend to scare away rivals since the company’s main focus isn’t the competition but the quality service given to travelers.
“We are David in the land of Goliaths,” Novillas added.
Granted that the airline is still fairly young, their overall direction is not set to increase the option for passengers, but for travelers to realize that Royal Air is the only option they can possibly go with. As Novillas said in his speech during the inaugural event, “we do not aim to become number one or number two or number three but to become the only airline of choice of passengers.”
Routes Manila-Cebu and Cebu-Manila are scheduled to fly once a day daily. The regular price of the airfare starts at ₱3,968 per passenger per way, as of the date of writing.
Cebu to Davao Flight
Along with the other travelers, we took the inaugural flight from Cebu to Davao and landed in Davao International Airport at lunchtime. Upon our arrival, we were entertained by a group of cultural performers playing a piece of traditional yet festive music while dancers synchronically moved along the beat.
The airport coordinators, Royal Air officers, and the first passengers of this Royal Air route were invited to grab their own plate and indulge in the food, as the celebration of the completion of Cebu-Davao inaugural flight begins.
“Royal Air flies 4 times a week from Cebu to Davao. Hopefully, after 2 months, we operate the flights daily,” CEO Ed Novillas said in a statement.
“We want to make a difference without making competition the main driver of our efforts to grow,” he continued.
The inaugural event was graced by the presence of Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Manager Rex Obsina and Royal Air General Sales Agent for Davao John Baricuatro.
Routes Cebu-Davao and Davao-Cebu are scheduled to fly once a day, 4 times a week: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. The regular price of the airfare starts at ₱2,982 per passenger per way, as of the date of writing.
Cebu to Cagayan De Oro Flight
The next day, we flew from Cebu to Cagayan De Oro for its maiden flight. Upon setting foot at the Laguindingan Airport, there were yet again cultural performers taking pride in their artistic demonstration of tradition and lifestyle as a local of the Northern Mindanao region.
Present during the Cebu-Cagayan De Oro inaugural event were City Councilor Inday Dahino, City Councilor George Goking, and Laguindigan Airport Manager Jon De Jesus.
“Considering Cagayan de Oro as a destination is an indication of tourism development in Northern Mindanao,” City Councilor Inday Dahino said.
According to City Councilor George Goking, Cagayan de Oro is in the process of developing as a metropolitan area. “The city of CDO is awarded as the most competitive city in this part of Mindanao. Cagayan de Oro now is geared towards metropolization,” Goking stated in a speech.
“Laguindingan Airport is the gateway of Northern Mindanao to the world, ” Laguindingan Airport manager Jon de Jesus said. “With almost 7 million of cargo transported only this quarter of 2019. We hope to extend in the next 5 years.”
Routes Cebu-Cagayan De Oro and Cagayan De Oro-Cebu are scheduled to fly once a day, 3 times a week: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. The regular price of the airfare starts at ₱880 per passenger per way, as of the date of writing.
Two more destinations, namely Caticlan and Puerto Princesa, are included in the links of Royal Air from its hub in Cebu. Routes to and from Caticlan flies 3x a week, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Regular airfare starts at ₱3,052 per passenger per way. Meanwhile, routes to and from Puerto Princesa flies 4x a week, on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Regular airfare begins at ₱1,381 per passenger per way.
For information about Royal Air Philippines, visit their website at www.flyroyalair.com. You may also follow their Facebook page for updates and announcements.
Thinking of flying to domestic destinations via Royal Air? Check out this article to see my flight review.
This inaugural event was organized by Royal Air. The writer was invited as a guest blogger.