AirAsia Philippines eyes Puerto Princesa as 3rd leg to Davao-Kota Kinabalu

2015032968e8dJosephine Joy D. Caneba, the airline’s chief executive officer, told BusinessWorld that passenger load on the Manila-Davao service, which resumed last week at thrice-daily frequency, as well as in the Manila-Kota Kinabalu flights are a good indication of the potential traffic.
“The route is very promising because, travelers from the city (Davao) can travel between Puerto Princesa (in Palawan) and Kota Kinabalu (in Malaysia) easier and I think based on our Manila-Kota Kinabalu experience, there really is traffic,” said Ms. Caneba in an interview at the sidelines of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce meeting last week.

Ms. Caneba also said that the company is looking at more Manila-Davao flights.

Other new international flights planned for launch this year are Cebu-Hong Kong and Cebu-Singapore by May or June and Cebu-Japan in July.

The airline launched its inaugural Cebu-Kota Kinabalu flight last Friday on four times weekly frequency.

Tourism Regional Director Roberto P. Alabado III, who joined other officials in welcoming Ms. Caneba’s all-female crew at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport last Friday for the relaunch of the Manila-Davao flights, expressed support for the company’s plans, saying: “We need more of these services to help our tourism industry.”

The Malaysian consul-general in Davao City, Abdullah Zawawi Tahir, urged the company to consider direct flights between Davao and Kota Kinabalu, not just for passengers, but for cargo.

“(Servicing the) Davao-Kota Kinabalu route will allow the faster flow of goods between the two destinations,” he told BusinessWorld.

Mr. Tahir also said flights between the two major cities in southern Philippines and eastern Malaysia will stimulate the tourism industry of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

The focus areas in the BIMP-EAGA sub-regional grouping, formed about 20 years ago, are: Mindanao and Palawan in the Philippines; Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan in Malaysia; Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku, West Papua and Papua in Indonesia; and Brunei Darussalam.

AirAsia currently has 15 aircraft and is planning to acquire three more to service routes outside of its hubs in Manila, Cebu and Kalibo. — Carmelito Q. Francisco, Carmencita A. Carillo

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