ILOILO CITY (MindaNews/22 March) – Leading domestic airline Cebu Pacific is planning to open three more flights this year between this city and General Santos City as part of its continuing domestic expansion program.
Rosalie Gamutan, Cebu Pacific manager for Iloilo operations, said they are currently studying the viability of increasing its regular flights for the route from four to seven every week or once a day in a bid to cope with the growing passenger and cargo traffic between the two areas.
She said the Iloilo-General Santos route has been posting a steady rise in traffic since it opened in October 2012 and they expect such trend to continue in the coming years.
“That has been one of our thriving flights to Mindanao so far as shown by the full bookings even during the off-peak period or season,” she said at the sidelines of the ongoing three-day Region 12 tourism exposition at the SM City Mall here.
Gamutan said the route usually experience high passenger traffic during college or university semestral breaks, summer and the Christmas season.
She said they have assigned an Airbus A319 aircraft, which has a capacity of 156 passengers, for their regular four weekly flights but they sometimes upgrade it to the Airbus A320 during the peak season.
The Airbus A320 aircraft has a listed capacity of 179 passengers, she said.
These past months, Gamutan said they noticed increased bookings for the route from professionals, especially by the medical and agricultural sales representatives.
She said an increasing number of sales representatives have been using it as alternate route when attending meetings and other related company and industry activities in Iloilo City and Davao City.
Aside from the rising passenger traffic, Gamutan said the cargo load from General Santos City has been also growing these past months.
She said the regular cargo load comprises various products from Region 12, especially fresh and processed tuna.
Region 12, which is also known as the Soccsksargen Region, comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
Nelly Nita Dillera, Department of Tourism (DOT) Region 12 director, lauded Cebu Pacific’s expansion plans for the Iloilo-General Santos route saying it will complement with their efforts to draw more tourists to the region.
“More flights means more tourists coming to Region 12,” she said.
DOT-12 and the region’s tourism stakeholders embarked on a week-long grand “selling mission” here last Tuesday in a bid to lure more tourists from the area.
The activity was highlighted by the tourism exposition, which features exhibits of the region’s top products, tourist destinations, fashion shows and cultural presentations.
Last year, the agency launched the “12th paradise” as the region’s tourism brand as part of its enhanced promotion and marketing campaign for the area’s tourist attractions.
It said the campaign focuses on the “paradise-like experiences” in the region through its natural and cultural destinations. (MindaNews)