DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/04 July) – Two airlines from Indonesia and one from the Philippines have expressed interest to reestablish direct flights between Davao City and Manado in North Sulawesi, Indonesia as part of the efforts to strengthen the connectivity within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Indonesian Consul General Dicky Fabrian said.
Fabrian said in an interview that either Garuda Group’s Citylink Indonesia or Lion Air from the Indonesian side, and Philippine Airlines’ PAL Express might service the direct air linkage.
The official said initial talks had begun with PAL Express.
“We hope, by the end of this year, there is at least soft launching of the direct flight, but again either PAL Express first or our carrier Citylink or Lionair,” he said.
Fabrian added the airline companies had also asked that they be allowed to have a layover either in Cebu or Manila for its return flight to Manado from Davao.
He said the revival of the Davao-Manado air linkage will strengthen ASEAN connectivity, as it will cut the travel period to four hours at most for tourists and business people from Jakarta, the capital and largest city of Indonesia.
It takes six hours to fly from Jakarta to Davao via Manila.
The Indonesian diplomat said he is confident the direct air linkage between Davao and Manado, a popular diving site in Indonesia, will draw more travelers from both sides.
He said the airline servicing the route would also offer cargo services to exchange goods between the two countries.
On September 1, 2018, Philippine Ambassador to Indonesia Leehiong T. Wee and Indonesian Ambassador to the Philippines Sinyo Harry Sarundajang signed a statement to promote the reestablishment of the air route.
The signing was witnessed by Transportation Undersecretary for Aviation Manuel Antonio L. Tamayo at the Indonesian Embassy in Makati City.
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” was signed between the Philippines and Indonesia on March 24, 1972 to enhance the mutually beneficial economic relations and people-to-people contact stemming from centuries-old ties.
A subsequent memorandum of understanding 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 had been identified as designated points. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)