How much do you usually pay for a one way Guam to Manila flight via United Airlines or PAL? I would say it could be anywhere from a low of $250 to a high of $400. This for a three-and-a-half hour flight.
How much would one have to pay for a Manila to Saipan flight or a Manila to Palau flight courtesy of sole carrier United Airlines with a distance of around 2/3 of a Manila to Guam flight? I understand it’s around a low of $500 to a high of $800.
There you have it. The beauty of free enterprise in an industry that is supposed to have been deregulated as far back as the ‘80s. Sure, we the consumers and most business entities have always battled for less federal government intervention, interference, and participation more so on business and industries concerning basic public service and utilities. It has always made sense to welcome the concept of free market enterprise and competition knowing fully well that businesses in an environment of a healthy competition would redound to consumer benefit.
However, that doesn’t seem to be the case with the Manila-Guam route. Although it’s not a monopoly but is a binopoly (by the way, there is no such word as binopoly, but you know what I mean), and certainly not with the Manila-Palau or Manila-Saipan route which at the moment is a virtual monopoly of United.
Let’s take for example a similar travel distance, like a flight from Manila to Singapore which could go as low as $70 at Tiger Air. It’s almost the same 3-½ hours flight. These Asian carriers are truly operating within the bounds of a free enterprise system and a healthy competition, and at the end of the day, none of these Asian carriers are in the red and are in fact even making good money. Which now lets me rethink the idea of when government regulation may also be beneficial for the public welfare.
In Guam’s as well as with Palau and Saipan’s case, if the industry were regulated, then government can step in and tell the greedy United and PAL to lower their rates. Notwithstanding, the PAL flights from the Philippines that cannot pick up passengers in Guam en route to Hawaii (this will be the subject of a future column of mine). This would perhaps be an exception to the rule wherein we, the consumers, wanting more of government intervention.
Having said my 2 cents worth, it’s about time we the consumers take to the streets (for a lack of a better politically correct term), make noise where and when we can and fight for our God given right for better airfare. As I have said, the Asian carriers are offering fares as low as 25% of what we have and they’re still laughing all the way to the bank.
The airline carriers right now are making too much of a killing at the expense of the hard earned people of Guam’s money.
To my kababayans – mabuhay po tayong lahat. The next time you travel to the Philippines take comfort in the swift travel time, forget about the numbers and Buen biåhe.