Biz leader asks airlines to make Davao City hub for int’l flights

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 09 July) —  Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCI) trustee Arturo Milan has asked airline companies to make the Davao International Airport, also known as the F. Bangoy International Aiport, the hub for international flights in Mindanao to decongest traffic at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Milan told a press briefing Friday that NAIA must be devolved of some international flights and distribute these to provincial airports like Cebu and Davao because the congestion in the airport in Manila results in flight delays, causing discomfort to passengers.

He said it is not practical to place all international flights in NAIA when some destinations are closer to Davao City than Manila, like Australia, Palau, and other member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

SilkAir flies directly to Singapore from Davao City.

“That’s overdue. Look at the traffic in Metro Manila. Flights are delayed because you cannot just put them in one airport, all (passengers) keep coming. It will certainly affect the flight schedules,” he said.

Milan believes there is a market for Davao-Australia route because many tourists would want to visit a tropical country like the Philippines during winter season.

He said Australia is located just below the Philippines on the global map.

“There should be a flight emanating from Australia that will go to Davao because you are making a route that is attractive to foreigners. Australia by itself has too many tourists,” he said.

He said Western tourists either go to Bali, Indonesia or Palau in the Micronesia. Both are closer to Davao in terms of proximity.

He said reviving the Manado-Davao flights would also help sustain the Davao-General Santos- Bitung, Indonesia roll on/roll off (RORO) that was launched in April.

“For RORO to be sustainable, we should encourage the revival of the flight of Davao to Manado and back because I don’t think if you invest or you trade you don’t wanna see the area,” he said.

He said the direct flight to Manado will also make transactions between Indonesians and their counterparts from Davao to discuss business deals.

On June 15, Milan urged the House of Representatives to pass into law House Bill 2002 which seeks to create the Davao International Airport Authority to decentralize management of the airport from the national government to enable a faster implementation of development programs.

He said the management of the airport cannot implement projects on its own because it is dependent on the national government.

He said the government can replicate the model of Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority “to make Davao City airport inviting” to both tourists and business executives visiting the city.

Once approved, he said the “authority,” a body that will take over the management, can immediately plan out development projects and implement them on its own.

The F. Bangoy International Airport, also known as the Davao International Airport, is currently being managed by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

“When it is ‘authority’, the Davao International Airport will have flexibility rather than the current set up where you depend so much on the national (office). It’s really a must now, if we want a more responsive Davao airport,” he said.

“We need to upgrade our airport because it is where the first contact of the investors is. They need to have a good impression of our region by way of our airport terminal. We are pushing to improve airport. Overall passenger experience has to be improved a lot, in terms of aircon, ventilation, and X-ray machines. They have to work efficiently all the time,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)