Philippines eyes more international air routes

Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - February 12, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) aims to further boost the number of international flights to and from the country as the Philippines is set to host two major aviation events.

In a statement, the DOT said Cebu would host this year’s edition of Routes Asia and CAPA Asia Aviation, which is in line with the country’s effort to boost its bid as one of Asia’s aviation hubs.

Routes Asia is slated from March 10 to 12 at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino. The event will bring together top-level speakers from across the sphere of aviation, including airlines, airports, destinations, aircraft manufacturers and more, to discuss the most pressing issues facing aviation now and into the future.

Meanwhile, CAPA Asia Aviation to be held in June is expected to gather some 300 aviation executives and decision makers.

“This will be the perfect avenue to converge and discuss new possibilities in mounting new routes to the Philippines,” the DOT said.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the upcoming events would showcase the newly developed Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) and would further bolster the country’s international networks and local tourism.

“It’s all system go for these two major aviation events. We are looking forward to boost not just the number of air seats, but also that of new routes and development opportunities for smoother and faster travels to and from the country,” Puyat said.

In 2018, the DOT’s Route Development Team under the tourism development sector facilitated the opening of 40 new international air routes that provided a total of about 1.6 million air seats. Of this number, 23 are from local airlines, while the remaining 17 are facilitated by international carriers.

“We’re not only trying to increase the utilization of our secondary gateways like Cebu, but we’re also trying to decongest Manila, not only of its passenger traffic but as well as the aircraft movement.” Puyat said.

She added that through both Routes Asia and CAPA Aviation summit, the Philippine aviation industry looks forward to further capacity and infrastructure enhancements in the coming years.

Of the new air routes added this year, the DOT reported that a total of 21 new routes to and from China were produced, providing for some 745,000 additional seat while three routes to and from Taiwan created an additional 84, 000 air seats. This is in line with the country’s efforts to cater to the growing interest from the Chinese tourist market.

In 2018, China registered the highest growth among source markets at 29.62 percent to 1.26 million arrivals.

A Filipino-Chinese business group earlier said it is optimistic that the Philippines will be able to attract more Chinese tourists to visit the country, driven by the country’s improving air connectivity.

“Nowadays the air route has been increasing from Cebu to different parts from China, from Ilocos Norte, from Palawan. So we are sure that this year, many more tourists will be come from China,” said Fernando Gan, secretary-general of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry Inc. (FFCCCII).

Data from the Official Aviation Guide (OAG) analytics show that the Philippines saw an increase in international traffic of 11.33 million or a 5.4 percent growth from the 10.71 million recorded for the same period last year.

This growth translated to more than 600,000 increase in international air passenger traffic as the demand for international inbound air seats to the Philippines remained very strong.

Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. emphasized that further developments are expected to draw higher foreign tourist arrivals are anticipated for the eleven priority gateways: Laoag, Clark, Manila, Puerto Princesa and Legaspi in Luzon; Iloilo, Kalibo, Bacolod, Cebu and Bohol in the Visayas; and Laguindingan in Mindanao.

Last year, the DOT said it is working with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to prioritize the development of more airports through a convergence program between the two government agencies. This aims to accommodate the growing demand for travel across the country.

“Now we’re focused on looking at least 85 airports all over the country to make sure that they are really capable and that they would have the capacity to receive guests directly,” Tourism Undersecretary Arturo Boncato Jr. earlier said.

Under the National Tourism Development Plan, the DOT identified transport infrastructure as one of the strategic programs in pursuing competitiveness and inclusive growth.

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with