FASTCAT 30 BY 2020

Five state-of-the-art roll-on, roll-off (Ro-Ro) FastCat vessels shall be added to Archipelago Philippine Ferries Corporation (APFC) — faster, safer and wider coverage of the country’s islands.

This is occasioned by the signing last December 12th between APFC and the Philippine National Bank (PNB) of a P1.8-billion loan for the construction of five additional vessels with features for safety, comfort and solar power for cleaner emission while reducing costs.

This is part of the ambitious re-fleeting plan of 2010, with newbuilts delivered 2013, and on target of phases to complete the goal of 30 newbuilts by 2020.

Witnessing the signing are APFC partners in land travel (JAM, Philtranco,  ecoDyip); cargo and logistics (Quick Reliable Services); hospitality (By The Sea Hotels), and other allied services (Philippine Archipelago Ports and Terminal Services) with suppliers led by Bonny Fair Development (shipbuilder) and Green Bay Marine (ship designer).

 

Impact.

APFC Pres/CEO Christopher Pastrana says, “The addition of these new vessels will open up new routes … will boost trade among neighboring islands and support the local economy.

Domestic farmers, fishermen, craftsmen and various producers will be able to transport their goods to far flung places faster and at a lower cost.”

On Pastrana’s leadership, APFC takes bold steps; pours in heavy investment in acquiring state-of-the-art international-classed, mid-speed RORO passenger catamaran vessels — for safe, fast, affordable and convenient sea travel.

Funding is assured by a syndication of loans from major banks: Rizal Commercial Banking (RCBC), P1.1-billion for three vessels, February 27th; Landbank of the Philippines (Landbank), P1.7-billion for five vessels, April 2nd; and United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB), P560.3-million for two vessels, September 12th.

These reflect approval of APFC corporate health, the viability and sunshine opportunity in its business to provide a vital maritime link between the 7,107 islands of the Phil.

 

Network.

APFC has 12 FastCats operating in pairs:

  • Batangas (Calabarzon) – Calapan (Mindoro)
  • Bulalacao (Mindoro) – Caticlan (Aklan)
  • Matnog (Sorsogon) – San Isidro (Northern Samar)

And other routes in eastern and western seaboards including Cebu to Bohol and Bohol to San Carlos.

Demand.

Pastrana observes the continued growth of passengers and cargo, with local government officials appealing for inclusion in FastCat routes to link, for example, Marinduque and Romblon, with Antique, as far Zamboanga and Tawi-Tawi.

Reason could be the safest and fastest sea connections between destination points and back. Passengers are treated to a wide selection of on-board food and beverages, entertainment and comfortable accommodation.

Revenues increased from P1.5-billion gross last year to about P1.8-billion gross this year serving over three million passengers with 12 vessels.

 

Statistics.

Figures from the Ports Authority (PPA) confirm the upscale trend:

  • Passenger volume continues to expand; by July, increased by 6.63% to 47.592 million from 44.631 last year;
  • Cargo volume up 2% in Jan-July as Manila ports utilization remain healthy
  • Shipcalls during the period improved by 5.05% to 273,827 vessels from 260,669 due to increase in domestic shipcalls by 5.33%.

 

Time saved.

With new vessels launched November 30th at the APFC private port, Matnog-Dapdap, Northern Samar run is reduced from two hours to 45 minutes.

Even Mabuhay Maritime Express, a subsidiary of Phil Airlines, had launched a Kalibo-Boracay ferry service reducing to an hour and a half travel time from the usual two and half by shuttle and boat.

 

Government.

APFC is in synch with the Government’s Build Build Build infrastructure program, part of the ideal inter-modal facilities. Like when roads are expanded, Davao’s 1200km from Manila should only be about 12hours at 100km/hour (not the present 38 hours).

Goods and people could move and finish transactions within a day or less — faster, wider and cheaper, with lesser brokers or intermediaries, opening opportunities and exciting the economy in the farms, in the region, of the nation.

With a coastline of 36,289 kilometers (fifth longest in the world) and over7,000 populated islands, APFC’s ferry business and roll-on, roll-off capabilities on advanced technologies,  must be factored in the development equation.

 

A Fair Lady.

Love becomes more meaningful when the couple are in the same business pod.

EVP Ann Pastrana “… believe in ourselves as game changers” by using technology towards operational excellence as the tracker of German technology to monitor vessels in real time.

Lady Pastrana confirms management uses Microsoft AX dynamics “that talks from our accounting, finance, inventory, down to our warehouses … “making them more efficient operationally with Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao talking.

Next year, online ticketing will be launched; also, the first in the Philippines to have e-learning and virtual reality training system required of all crew and cadets to gain expertise needed; in partnership with Seaversity, awardee in Taiwan in distance learning.

 

The President.

Much more may be spoken of Chet but the APFC plate is already fulfilling.

He states a holistic commitment APFC is not just a shipping company but “we are transportation provider…(for) seamless movement of people and goods to our bus network, to our cargo logistics, to our port, in the warehousing that we have in our ports.”

FastCat Ro-Ro’s are proud of onboard By-the-Sea Hotels where travellers may have a place to dine and to rest in clean facilities.

Pastrana’s Masters in Entrepreneurship from the Asian Institute of Management and UP-Los Banos major in Agricutural Business serve him well in packaging proposals with the banks. He insists on brand-new holdings, backed by executives with credentials and credibility.

More importantly, Chet is fueled by a vision for the Philippines, a maritime nation that must march proud on the world stage. Profits, why not.

But the overarching objective for President Pastrana is country and people, to complete the body with a soul.

He is now president of the Phil Interisland Shipping Association (PISA) established in 1977 as a broad cross-section of the local maritime industry, with domestic shipowners and shipping support providers.

In 2016, he was elected president of Interferry, a world body of 200 member organizations of 600 maritime executives from 35 countries during its 41st Annual Conference from October 15-19 held in Manila hosted by the Philippines.

 

Next challenge.

In Bangkok,Thailand, the fifth annual Ferry Safety and Technology Conference will be held on February 20-22, 2019, bringing together an international cadre of ferry owners and operators; naval architects and marine engineers with new technology developers and providers for efficiency and safety.

Fastcat will be a presenter on the practical applications of cutting-edge technologies like What’s New in Ferries which will feature Mobility as a Service–the customer’s end-to-end trip is seamlessly integrated; new ferry systems; new materials; and new ideas for ferry design as award-winning student team captains report on their designs for the Pasig River, Manila.

The couple sees the conference as opportunity to show the Philippines as responsible, complying with international standards of safety to reverse the stigma we are highly accident-prone in maritime operations.

 

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