2 airlines asked to resume Asian flights through Davao airport

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 June) – Business and tourism groups here have asked a local and a Malaysian airline company to resume their Asian flights from the Davao airport in the bid to inject more vigor to the local tourism industry and as feedback continued to point at the lack of international connections to attract a slice of the global travel and leisure market.

The appeal by business and tourism groups were already sent to Malaysia Airlines to resume its direct flight to Malaysia but linking it with the Malaysian city of Kota Kinabalu, and to Cebu Pacific Air to revive its Davao-Hong Kong flight.

Mary Ann Montemayor, a businesswoman here who joined the Davao travel mission to Beijing in early June, said Davao’s request to the Malaysian airliner may likely be discussed in the upcoming meet on tourism by ministers and senior government officials of the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

“Malaysia has already signified interest in launching again the flight of budget airlines Air Asia, and it also indicated it would include Davao City as a destination, at least for the BIMP-EAGA area,” she said.

Air Asia has previously told a Filipino official of the BIMP-EAGA Business Council, in 2009, that it would service this city with Kota Kinabalu, currently the busiest crossroads of Malaysia among BIMP connected areas. Kota Kinabalu is the capital of Sabah state in Malaysia and located on the northwest coast of Borneo facing the South China Sea.

This major industrial and commercial center of East Malaysia has a population of 579,304 and it is the largest urban center in Sabah and the sixth largest in Malaysia. It has become a crossroad in flights to known Asian destinations like Singapore and Hong Kong and has been increasingly known for its tourism, attracting more than one million visitors annually.

Air Asia was asked then to fly three times a week for a start but the global recession of the 2008-2010 episode may have forced the Malaysian budget airliner to call off the plan.

Cebu Pacific Air, meantime, has told Davao groups that it was studying the prospect of testing anew the Davao-Hong Kong flight it previously served in 2008, Montemayor said.

In internet marketing and booking by Cebu Pacific that year, it said that it had 16 flights per week for the route and used both the 150-seater and 179-seater aircrafts.

Montemayor said that Davao City business and tourism groups would lobby for more international flights to Davao from as many Asian destinations as possible. “We need the international connections because Davao has long been ready to host international meetings, aside from having many eco-tourism spots to attract visitors,” she added.

Davao has hosted in 2006 the Asean Tourism Forum, Asia’s largest annual tourism and travel event, and has been the venue of other international meetings of religious and other sectoral organizations.

“We have the rooms and the facilities. We are now about 4,000 rooms and would have 5,000 rooms by 2012,” she said. (MindaNews)