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SHIPPING LINES CUT DOWN FARES

By: Aileen Garcia-Yap, Jhunnex Napallacan February 17,2016 - 10:32 PM

Vessel 2

Sea travel between Cebu and other provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao is now cheaper.  In some routes, the fare is cut by almost half of what it used to cost.

With fuel prices dropping, at least two sea liners in Cebu have started offering lower fares – Metro Ferry Inc. and Lite Shipping Corporation, with more shipping companies expected to announce their own reduced rates before the end of the week.

Lawyer Augusto Go, Metro Ferry Inc. owner, told Cebu Daily News in a phone interview that they implemented effective yesterday,  Feb. 17,  the P1-fare reduction from P14 to P13 in all their eight ferries catering to passengers going to Lapu-Lapu City from Pier 3 in Cebu City and vice versa.

Lite Shipping Corp., one of the major shipping companies serving  major routes in the region, also announced that unless the fuel price will rise anew,  they will be maintaining the reduced rates that were initially offered as promotional fares in August last year, said  Neil Pingkian, the shipping company’s operations manager.

Lite Shipping’s rate for its Cebu-Ormoc (Leyte) route is now P250 from P410; P150 from P230 for Cebu-Tagbilaran (Bohol); P110 from P220 for Cebu-Tubigon (Bohol); and P360 from P370 for Samboan (Cebu)-Dapitan (Zamboanga del Norte) route.

The shipping firm’s rates for the Toledo City (Cebu)-San Carlos (Negros Occidental) route were also reduced significantly, from P180 to P145 (economy), P190 to P155 (standard) and P200 to P165 (tourist accommodation).

“We offer the promo for standard accommodation and for day trips only. We have also reduced our rates for freight services from 10 percent to 20 percent,” said Pingkian.

Lite Shipping currently caters to  the  Visayas and Mindanao areas  with 10 routes served by   a total of 19 vessels.

Alex Cohon, president of the Visayan Association of Ferry Boat and Coastwise Service Operators (Vafcso), said their members will be meeting today, Thursday, to agree on how much they will be reducing from their current rates.

“We have agreed to reduce but as to how much, we still have to meet about that tomorrow (today),” said Cohon in  a phone interview yesterday.

Vafcso has 23 members, which includes eight passenger shipping companies. The rest are cargo shipping companies.

Lite Shipping, a Vafcso-member,   will join the meeting today and may adjust its rates further if the group will agree on a higher rate reduction than what they are already offering, Pingkian said.

Other member-passenger shipping companies are Cokaliong Shipping Lines Inc., Trans-Asia Shipping Lines Inc., George and Peter Lines Inc., Danilo Lines Inc., Lapu-Lapu Shipping Lines Corp., Roble Shipping Inc., and Gabisan Shipping Lines Inc.

George and Peter Lines Inc. vice president Georgia Felice Chiongbian-Rama said that before they would reduce rates, they would always meet with other shipping lines as a gesture of  courtesy.

Chester Cokaliong, founder, president and chief executive officer of Cokaliong Shipping Lines, said they are studying the numbers to determine by how much fares can be reduced.

Trans-Asia Shipping Lines Inc. vice president for marketing and sales Pinky Sy also said they will await the results of  today’s meeting  before they announce any fare reduction.

In January last year, shipping companies also reduced their rates because of the lower fuel prices.

Cohon said that last year, Lapu-Lapu Shipping reduced its rates by P15 for their Cebu-Baybay City-Cebu route and P30 for the Cebu-Masbate-Cebu route.

Trans-Asia Shipping Lines and Cokaliong Shipping Lines also reduced their rates last year by P10.

Trans-Asia Shipping Lines reduced its rates for the Cebu-Cagayan de Oro and Ozamis routes’ second-class non-aircon accommodation while Cokaliong Shipping reduced rates for their Cebu-Ozamis-Cebu, Cebu-Iligan-Cebu, Cebu-Ozamis-Cebu, Cebu-Iligan-Cebu and Cebu-Dumaguete-Cebu routes last year.

Jose Cabatingan, information officer of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) in Central Visayas, meanwhile confirmed that Lite Shipping yesterday filed a notice of downward adjustment of at least 10 percent of its cargo rates.

The new rates took effect immediately after the company filed the notice, Cabatingan said.

Bernard Samson, freight and passage manager of Lite Shipping,  said the company did not file a notice to reduce rates for its passenger vessels since the downward adjustment had already been implemented since late last year.

Samson said the 10-percent reduced cargo rate will benefit the Cebu-Tubigon and Cebu-Tagbilaran City routes, both in Bohol; and the Argao (Cebu)-Loon (Bohol),  Cebu-Ormoc (Leyte), Cebu-Plaridel (Misamis Occidental) and Samboan-Dapitan routes.

Cabatingan said the move of Lite Shipping was in response to the advisory issued by Marina Administrator Maximo Mejia on Jan. 22, 2016  urging the shipping companies to lower their passenger and cargo rates following the series of downward fuel price adjustments.

“In view of the recent rollback in the price of petroleum products in the local and global market which is the lowest for the past 12 years, and in order to protect and safeguard the interest of the riding public by ensuring that the rates being charged remain just and equitable, all domestic shipping companies operating passenger and/or cargo ships in the liner service are hereby enjoined to reasonably adjust their passenger and cargo rates,” Mejia has said.

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