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PAL eyes non-stop flights to Israel

May 3, 2021

FLAG carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) is planning to mount non-stop flights between Manila and Tel Aviv, Israel by October.      The company is eyeing twice weekly nonstop flights to Tel Aviv’s Gurion international Airport using its Airbus A350 aircraft.      PAL President and Chief Operating Officer Gilbert F. Santa Maria has been in talks with Israel Ministry of Tourism Director General Amir Halevi on the possible Manila-Tel Aviv-Mania flights, the company said in a statement on Friday. Philippine passport holders can travel to Israel visa-free for up to 90-day visits.      “The Philippines is a strong source of potential travelers to Israel, which welcomes Filipinos without requiring a visa. Our countrymen have been longing for a direct flight to the Holy Land for spiritual pilgrimages or for a Mediterranean getaway when the travel climate allows,” PAL Chief Strategy and Planning Officer Dexter Lee said.      “We also look forward to inviting Israelis to visit the Philippines, so our direct flights will help us restart tourism here in our country.”      The Philippines on May 1 will lift its travel ban on foreign nationals, except for those travelling from India, where coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases have surged. Metro Manila and nearby regions are still under a strict lockdown where tourism attractions are not allowed to open.      Israel, which has fully vaccinated more than half its population, is slowly opening up its borders to international tourists, starting with vaccinated tour groups next month.      “‘Once the global travel climate improves and restrictions are eased, the planned PAL service will enable Israeli tourists to fly nonstop to Manila and connect to the flag carrier’s domestic route network,” PAL said.      The company last week announced that it would test run an international travel pass mobile application that allows passengers to manage travel documents and share COVID-19 test results and vaccination status.

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Aboitiz unit, Swiss firm to build local telco towers

May 3, 2021

ABOITIZ InfraCapital, Inc. said it is working with Switzerland-based global private markets investment management firm Partners Group Holding AG to build and operate telecommunication towers in the Philippines.      Aboitiz InfraCapital and Partners Group intend to “build and operate telecommunication towers and support infrastructure across the country” through a telecommunications infrastructure platform called Unity Digital Infrastructure, Inc., the listed company told the local bourse on Thursday.      In February, Unity Digital Infrastructure secured a certificate of registration as an independent tower company from the Department of Information and Communications Technology.      “It is now working on the rollout of its pilot batch of towers with the mobile network operators,” Aboitiz InfraCapital said.      The company said the partnership aims to support the government’s goal to improve the country’s internet connectivity in local communities by increasing the number of cell sites.      Existing mobile network operators may co-locate on Unity Digital Infrastructure’s tower assets, Aboitiz InfraCapital said.      Co-location and sharing of telecom infrastructure should help fast-track expansion, increase service reliability, reduce costs, and lessen redundant sites, it noted.      “The urgent need to expand the country’s infrastructure is creating opportunities for new providers to quickly capture market share,” said Grace del Rosario-Castaño, operating director of Unity Digital Infrastructure and member of Board of Directors of Partners Group.

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2GO Group buys new Japan vessel

May 3, 2021

2GO Group, Inc. on Wednesday announced the purchase of a new vessel from Japan, which will make its maiden voyage in the Philippines in May.      “The newly purchased ship will be part of 2GO’s fleet of 10 ROPAX (roll-on/roll-off passenger) and freighter vessels, sailing to 20 major ports of call, linking Manila to Visayas and Mindanao,” the company said in an e-mailed statement.      The acquisition, the company noted, is part of its continuing modernization program, which includes upgrading of its fleet and modernizing its operations.      With its discounted tickets, the company said it is ready for the resumption of domestic tourism.      The company is banking on its modernization projects to return to profitability.      It recently reported an attributable net loss of P1.84 billion for 2020, significantly wider compared with the previous year’s loss of P890.35 million.      But the company said it has no plans to raise additional capital for its modernization efforts.      “At this time, the management is able to fund these investments internally; thus, [we] have no current plans to raise additional capital,” William Charles Howell, 2GO chief financial officer, said at the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting on April 23.

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Holcim Philippines jumps 81% after focus on efficiency, cost

April 26, 2021

HOLCIM Philippines, Inc. has generated P908.92 million in net attributable profit for the first quarter, 81% higher than the P501.31-million posted in the same period last year due to “operational efficiency and cost discipline.”      “We delivered an excellent performance in the first quarter due to our sustained focus on health, cost, and cash,” Holcim Philippines President and Chief Executive Officer Horia Ciprian Adrian said in a statement on Friday.      Sales declined by six percent year-on-year to P6.81 billion from P7.27 billion due to the slow recovery of construction activity.      Around 80% of cement orders in the first quarter are said to be done through its online facility, Easybuild.      “Payments over the platform have also ballooned more than three times from the previous year,” Holcim Philippines said.      The company also launched additions to its product line, such as multipurpose mortar Holcim Multifix and water repellent cement Holcim Aqua X.      Improvements on operational costs caused the company’s earnings before interest and taxes for the period to improve by 69% to P1.31 billion from P693.78 million in 2019.      Holcim Philippines said it also participated in discussions on sustainability to highlight the company’s efforts on climate action and plastic waste management, joining the forums of the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.      Its Bulacan plant earned an ISO 45001:2018 certification for Occupational Health and Safety Management System and was recertified for ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System and ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management System.      Meanwhile, the company said it will have a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination program for its employees and dependents by the third quarter of the year.      “This will further bolster our resilience and help us sustain robust performance,” Mr. Adrian said.

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Discovery Hospitality to launch Kip & Kin brand in Palawan, Siargao

April 26, 2021

DISCOVERY World Corp.’s property management firm Discovery Hospitality Corp. (DHC) announced developments of lifestyle and “millennial-focused” brand, Kip & Kin, and other properties.      “With these properties in our plans, we are getting more excited to cater to a lot of travelers, whether the traditional ones or the more adventurous type,” Discovery Hospitality Senior Vice-President and Head of Sales and Operations Cathy Nepomuceno said in a statement on Thursday.      The concept of the Kip & Kin brand combines a hotel and hostel business in a single property. Discovery Hospitality named Palawan’s El Nido and San Vicente, and Siargao as some of the project locations.      Hotel rooms will be tailored for families, while the hostel located at the lower levels of the establishment will be designed for travelers “who wish to gather and meet new friends.”      Kip & Kin El Nido will be located at Vanilla Beach. It will face shopping center The Shoppes right in front, a full view of El Nido’s hillside, the seas, a rooftop pool, bar, and lounge area.      The El Nido resort is expected to open in June 2022, with 117 hotel rooms and 84 hostel beds.      Meanwhile, the San Vicente resort will be an “integrated tourism destination project” with 42 hotel rooms, 136 hostel beds, and two signature restaurants.      “The 165,000-hectare area is populated by local and indigenous people, embraces responsible and sustainable development standards, and will be open to private initiatives for the construction of resorts, hotels, and nature-focused amenities,” Discovery Hospitality said.      Kip & Kin Siargao will be located along General Luna near Cloud 9. The project aims to host “avid surfers and thrill-seekers” in its 34 hotel rooms, 48 hostel beds, and beverage outlets.      Discovery Hospitality said talks with resort developers regarding management contracts are ongoing with third-party resort owners for the Manami Resort in Visayas and a Mindanao project to be named Discovery Small.      “These projects are part of the pipeline to reach different types of markets and unique experiences in unique destinations,” Discovery Hospitality said.

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Vista Land income declines by 45%

April 26, 2021

VISTA Land & Lifescapes, Inc. reported a consolidated net income of P6.4 billion, 45% lower than the P11.6 billion generated in 2019 due to the pandemic.      “The past year truly challenged our ability to move forward despite the presence of a global health crisis. However, it even proved to be one of our most innovative years yet as we accelerated our digital transformation to reach and to better serve our clients,” Vista Land Chairman Manuel B. Villar, Jr. said in a statement on Thursday.      The company’s consolidated revenues dropped by 26% to P32.7 billion from P44.4 billion.      Vista Land said rental revenues from its commercial business dropped by 7%, without disclosing specific figures.      The property developer launched P5-billion worth of residential projects in the last quarter of 2020, ending the year with a launch value of P10 billion.      “We are glad to have witnessed the sustained uptrend of our reservation sales registering 37% growth since the second quarter of last year and are looking at 2021 with optimism following the resilient overseas Filipino remittances in 2020 and its projected growth of up to 4% this year,” Mr. Villar said.      The company’s capital expenditures totaled to P24.6 billion for the year, while total consolidated assets as of the end of December amounted to P284.1 billion.      “Vista Land will continue to capitalize on its geographic reach as the demand and preference of affordable housing located outside Metro Manila continues to be seen. We are also looking at increased foot traffic with the start of the vaccination rollout this year,” Mr. Villar said.      Meanwhile, Vista Land’s leasing business was able to improve its operational gross floor area (GFA) to 95% as most of its tenants were deemed essential.      “We also added over 90,000 square meters of GFA for our leasing business, mostly commercial centers as we took advantage of the captive demand of our residents,” Manuel Paolo A. Villar, president and chief executive officer of Vista Land, said.

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