DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 6 Sept) – The plan to re-establish the Davao City-Manado in North Sulawesi direct air connectivity will strengthen the city’s position as the gateway to the 10-country Association Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) executive director Romeo Montenegro said on Thursday.
“It’s a welcome development as we endeavor to lay the ground for enabling policy environment through inter-agency collaboration to make the route both viable and sustainable,” Montenegro told MindaNews.
There was a regular Davao-Manado flight but this was halted in 2008 for lack of load factor.
Montenegro said the Davao-Manado air route is a “strategic link identified under the transport and connectivity cluster and its planned re-opening strengthens Davao’s current positioning to be a gateway in ASEAN.”
The official believes the revival of the route would be sustained, compared to its previous operation, due to the growing “cross-border economic cooperation brought about by the ASEAN integration.”
The Davao International Airport has two international flights – Davao-Singapore by SilkAir and Cebu Pacific, and Davao-Kuala Lumpur by AirAsia.
But the Davao-KL direct flights will operate only until December 2018.
On September 1, 2018, Philippine Ambassador to Indonesia Leehiong T. Wee and Indonesian Ambassador to the Philippines Sinyo Harry Sarundajang signed a written statement to promote the reestablishment of the air route. It was witnessed by Transportation Undersecretary for aviation Manuel Antonio L. Tamayo at the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Makati City.
Both Ambassadors Wee and Sarundajang agreed to promote the revival of the defunct route to increase trade, tourism, and investment between the two countries.
The statement said the “Air Transport Agreement” signed between Philippines and Indonesia on March 24, 1972 will enhance the mutually beneficial economic relations and people-to-people contact stemming from centuries-old ties of both nations.
A subsequent memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the expansion of air linkages between and among Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines was also signed in 2007 where Davao and Manado were identified as designated points.
The two countries will mark the 69th anniversary of the opening of diplomatic relations on November 24 this year.
Davao Airport modernization
The P40.57-billion six-year modernization project on the congested Davao International Airport will start next year, according to Maria Lourdes Lim, regional director of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) 11.
She said the airport upgrading is one of the 75 projects identified under the massive infrastructure program called “Build, Build, Build” of the Duterte administration.
Lim said “Davao Airport Operations, Maintenance and Development Project” would rehabilitate existing terminal building and improvement of comfort rooms; expansion of existing terminal building, expansion of apron and vehicle parking area; consultancy services for the advance engineering, detailed engineering design and environmental impact assessment Study for Davao Airport Project; and construction of parallel taxiway and initial site acquisition for new airport site.
The modernization will consist provision of additional facilities and necessary improvements to enhance the safety, security, access, passenger and cargo movement efficiency, and operational efficiency.
“The Philippines is experiencing an infrastructure boom. The government has embarked on an ambitious infrastructure spending set to transform the Philippine economy,” she said.
Lim added the government continues to invest in growth-enhancing infrastructure projects that increase access to remote regions, provide intermodal logistics solutions and ensure seamless intermodal passenger transport. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)